Teen pleads guilty in wrong-way interstate death of 72-year-old

McCauley is escorted out of the courtroom Monday. (Dave MacQueen/WCIV)

By Eric

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Monday, Samuel McCauley stood in front of the family that will never be the same.

For the first time he looked them in the eye and apologized.

"I wish that it was me that died that night, I can't change what happened," McCauley said.

It was an emotionally-charged courtroom as McCauley faced the judge. Police say he drove the wrong way on Interstate 26 and killed a 72-year-old woman.

McCauley pleaded guilty to both felony DUI and reckless homicide. At the end of the hearing he asked to be taken into custody so he could get a head start on his sentence. The sentence has not been given, but McCauley faces the possibility of 35 years in prison.

McCauley admitted to being responsible for the death of 72-year-old Eleanor Caperton. According to court testimony, McCauley was drinking heavily the night of Caperton's death while on a friend's mother's boat, at Dolphin Cove Marina.

He was interviewed by police shortly after the fatal accident.

"When asked exactly where he got onto the interstate and began traveling the wrong way, he could not answer," said an attorney with solicitor's office during Monday's hearing. "He was uncooperative with the officer when she asked him how much he had to drink."

McCauley's blood alcohol content was measured at .208, about two and a half times the legal limit. In court, the attorney continued to say McCauley was suicidal and said he told officers he wanted to live dangerously.

A different Samuel McCauley appeared in court with his mother at his side.

"I am now and will forever be sorry," McCauley said.

After the hearing, the victim's family responded to the apology.

"It's the first time that we have seen any remorse from him or his family at all, but it doesn't bring my aunt back," said Gina Buchardt. "It does not change anything that's happened."

McCauley is now in jail at the Charleston County Detention Center until his sentencing hearing.

A punishment will not be given until a pre-sentencing investigation is completed by the court.