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Orangeburg County judge faces second DUI charge; three injured in head-on crash
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Orangeburg County judge faces second DUI charge; three injured in head-on crash

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An Orangeburg County magistrate is facing his second driving under the influence charge after a head-on collision injured him and two other people on Friday.

Magistrate Jacob Gillens, 70, of Eutawville is charged with first-offense driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or less.

Gillens was involved in a two-vehicle collision about a mile-and-a-half south of Orangeburg, according to S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Tyler Tidwell.

Tidwell said the collision occurred around 5:30 p.m. near the intersection of Birch Drive and U.S. Highway 301.

Gillens was driving a 2016 Cadillac north on U.S. Highway 301 when his vehicle “ran off the road to the left, drove into a culvert in the median and struck a truck head-on,” Tidwell said.

Gillens was the sole occupant of the Cadillac, Tidwell said. There were two occupants in the 2000 Chevrolet pickup.

The pickup driver was a 50-year-old male and the passenger was a 39-year-old female. Both were from Charleston and suffered minor injuries, Tidwell said.

Gillens was admitted to the Regional Medical Center. Officials do not believe his injuries are life-threatening.

Orangeburg County EMS transported all three to RMC for treatment.

Gillens is scheduled to appear in traffic court on Feb. 28 at 9 a.m.

He couldn’t be reached for comment by phone by press time.

Gillens also has pending charges of first-offense driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration of .08 but less than .10 and violating the state’s ABC law.

Those charges stem from an incident in Charleston County.

Gillens was traveling westbound on Interstate 26 in a 2013 Cadillac at about 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2017, according to Highway Patrol Cpl. Judd Jones.

At around the 211 mile maker, Gillens ran off the road to the left, struck the median wall and then came back across the interstate before side-swiping a 2017 Ford and finally ending up in a ditch, Jones said.

The driver of the Ford is suing Gillens.

The driver’s complaint alleges that Gillens’ actions caused the occupant of the Ford to suffer “great physical harm and injury from being violently thrown about the inside of the vehicle.”

Gillens’ written answer to the lawsuit says he was, “operating his automobile in a careful and prudent manner” when, through no fault of his own, he was placed in an unexpected emergency.

“Defendant was required to act only as appeared to him best under the circumstances, considering the emergency in which he was placed. Defendant acted in all respects in a careful and prudent manner and as any reasonable and prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances, for which reason, defendant is not liable to plaintiff in any sum whatsoever,” the response says.

John Paul Simkovich, Gillens’ attorney in the case, said Wednesday that, “I have no comment” about the pending case or Gillens’ charge from Friday.

The S.C. Office of Court Administration did not have any comment on the matter Wednesday.

According to online court documents, Gillens was first appointed a magistrate for Orangeburg County in 1985. He serves as an eastern region magistrate.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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