Teen charged in fatal DUI crash released from jail

Eleanor Caperton

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Lowcountry teen charged in a fatal DUI crash that killed a 72-year-old woman was released from jail Wednesday.

Judge James Gosnell Jr. reduced the bond for 19-year-old Samuel McCauley, placing McCauley on house arrest.

"It is under my ruling to set the bond at a $50,000, 10 percent. He's under 24-hour house arrest," Gosnell said.

McCauley did not appear at his hearing. He's charged with reckless homicide and felony DUI. Police say he drove drunk the wrong way down Interstate 26, and collided head-on with Eleanor Caperton. The July 24 crash killed Caperton.

The officer who responded to the original accident call was in court Wednesday.

"I made the determination Mr. McCauley was under the influence of alcohol and/or narcotics," said Officer Leanne McGowan.

McCauley's bond was originally set at more than $100,000.

His mother and friends sat in support of him, in the courtroom.

McCauley's attorney said he was taking the year off after graduating high school and was with his friends the night of the deadly crash.

"He was with some high school friends reminiscing about his high school experiences," said Capers Barr. "We'll get into the nuances to that, as we deal with Sam's case."

The victim's son, sister and other family gave a statement asking the judge not to lower the bond.

"I don't think it's fair my aunt lost her life while Samuel McCauley would be under house arrest, able to attend school, go to work," said the victim's niece, Gina Buchardt.

"It does bring back all of the memories, it's just very hard to get through," said Phyllis Savenkoff, Caperton's sister.

For the time being, McCauley will now live with his mother.

After his ruling, Gosnell gave McCauley's legal team a stern warning.

"Mr. Barr, he doesn't adhere to the conditions of which I set today, as an officer of the court I look you in the eyeball and tell you to put him back in jail," Gosnell said.

The judge also ordered McCauley into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

McCauley posted bond on Wednesday and was released from jail.