On April 28, 2023, Aric Hutchinson and Samantha Miller exchanged vows and celebrated the beginning of their lives as husband and wife by dancing near the Atlantic shoreline under a star-studded sky.
But, till death do you part came too early for the young newlyweds. Leaving their reception on Folly Beach–an island off the coast of South Carolina–Aric and Samantha were struck by a drunk driver, killing Samantha, 34, and sending Aric to hospital. Two others on the cart were also injured.
The bride’s mother, Lisa Miller said, “On the beginning of the golf cart ride, she said I wished this night could go on forever. The best night of her life.”
The couple’s beautiful day ended tragically after, as Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson, they joyously left the reception through a canopy of sparklers. Along with Aric’s relatives, Benjamin and Brogan Garrett, who were seated in the front, the young couple got into the back of the low speed vehicle (LSV), a street legal cart, similar to a golf cart.
They were only two blocks from where they were staying when Jamie Lee Komoroski, 25, slammed into the back of the LSV with the Toyota rental car she was operating.
According to Associated Press, data retrieved from Komoroski’s rental car indicated she was driving 65 mph in a 25 mph zone, and only briefly hit the brakes before crashing around 10 p.m. Friday on Folly Beach. Safety Department Director Andrew Gilreath confirmed the LSV had lights and was legal to drive at night.
The bride’s mother, who only hours earlier danced with her daughter to Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” said to local media, “I don’t know what the distraction was, but she literally ran into my daughter going 65 miles an hour. Sammie and Aric were on the back of the golf cart and so she basically just whammed my child.”
Mandi Jenkins, Samantha’s sister, recalled when they saw and heard the sirens near the place they were staying. “We were in our pajamas sitting on the balcony…and started to hear the sirens. And the sirens kept going,” Jenkins said. Texting her sister with no response, they drove to the scene and what they saw was horrifying.
The force of the collision tossed the cart about 100 yards, rolling several times before it finally came to a stop.
It was described as “a large crash scene with a golf cart on its side and several victims laying among the wreckage.”
Lisa was wrongly told her daughter was taken to the hospital, where she learned that Samantha’s body had been identified at the crash site.
Still wearing her wedding dress, Samantha was pronounced dead on the scene while Aric was taken to hospital with broken bones and brain injuries. One other passenger suffered serious injuries and the other is listed as stable.
According to the reports filed by police, Komoroski smelled of alcohol and told officers that about an hour before, all she had to drink was one beer and one tequila.
Officers said that she was “very unsteady” and had to be propped up to keep her from hitting the ground. Rating her impairment from one to 10, Komoroski said “eight” abut when asked to do a field sobriety test, “she strongly refused and became uncooperative.” At the police station, she also refused to provide a breath sample, but a warrant was issued for two viles of blood, results that are not yet available.
Komoroski is charged with reckless vehicular homicide and three counts of driving under the influence causing death. She faces one to 25 years in prison on each DUI count.
Komoroski, who has a history of speeding-related charges, is under suicide watch after telling officers she wanted to die.
There are two GoFundMe campaigns, one headed by Aric’s mother, Annette Hutchinson, to help cover the costs of Samantha’s burial and medical costs for her son, her son-in-law Benjamin and her grandson, Brogan. Annette writes, “Aric is in serious condition and has had one of two reconstruction surgeries, numerous broken bones, and a brain injury, he will have a long recovery. Ben and Brogan were also injured, Ben seriously.” She adds, “I was handed Aric’s wedding ring in a plastic bag at the hospital, five hours after Sam placed it on his finger and they read each other their vows. Aric has lost the love of his life.” This campaign has raised almost $600,000 on Wednesday of its $100,000 goal.
The other GoFundMe, that has so far raised almost $37,000 of its $10,000 goal, is organized by Samantha’s sister Mandi, to help the family. Mandi writes, “Samantha was fearless and that’s exactly how she spent the last day of her life. She was so excited to start her life with Aric. She had no nerves or hesitation that day. You could feel the love on the beach.”
It was meant to be the first day of the rest of their lives and it’s heartbreaking that it ended so tragically. Samantha Miller was such a beautiful young woman, and our love and thoughts go out to Aric and their families.