Samantha (known as Sam) Miller and Aric Hutchinson first met in 2019. It seemed to be almost love at first sight. Sam called Aric’s mother on the phone, around a week after the couple met and she said “Hello, future mother-in-law”.
During the four years they were together, they travelled and moved across the country. They adopted a new kitten together in 2020. After spending the COVID pandemic together in Aric’s home state of Utah, the couple moved to Charleston in the fall of 2021. Samantha found an apartment on James Island specifically because of its proximity to Folly Beach.
“It was Sam’s dream to live in Charleston by the beach and they have loved living on James Island for the past 21 months,” said Annette Hutchinson, Aric’s mother.
In June of 2021, Sam and Aric became engaged. Sam spent months planning her dream wedding.
“She was so excited to start her life with Aric,” Sam’s sister Mandi said. She was a daughter, a sister, a friend to all, a mother to two cats. She was a beautiful person, inside and out, who just wanted to make the people around her smile.”
Aric’s mother Annette said “ She instantly fit into our family from the first day Aric and Sam met, she was everything to my son and changed him for the better. She could light up a room with her presence and had an ease about her. They shared many hopes and dreams for their future including children and building a house.”
“Sam’s just got that glow. She’s the type that walks in a room, and you notice,” Aric said.
The couple picked their wedding day of April 28, 2023. They chose the location of Folly Beach in South Carolina. Samantha was 34 and Aric was 36.
“She had no nerves or hesitation that day. You could feel the love on the beach. But she was more than just a bride. – said Sam’s sister Mandi.
Sam’s wedding dress hung on a custom hanger that read “Mrs. Hutchinson.”
“We all just spent the day getting ready, drinking mimosas, and Sam was very happy,” said Sam’s mother, Lisa.
“When I got there, she was getting her hair done, and she was so calm and just beautiful, and just nothing was fazing her,” says Mandi, who says she made the couple a five layered pineapple and coconut cake for their wedding.
“The wedding was absolutely perfect. Sam had painstakingly planned every detail and she was so happy that day,” recalls Annette Hutchinson.
The couple were married on the beach and had their reception at the Folly Beach County Park.
Aric spoke about Sam’s love of Folly Beach.“(Folly Beach) was everything,” Aric said. “Sunrises, sunsets, laying out.” Samantha’s favorite season on Folly was spring and her favorite time of the day on the beach was sunrise, Aric said.
“She was so happy. I mean, planning a wedding, as most people know, is extremely stressful. And she just had a weird, like, calmness that night,” said Aric. He also said that the wedding and reception were one of the greatest days of his life.
“The dance floor was hopping, and everybody’s just dancing together, and Sam was in there dancing with everybody,” said Lisa.
There was even a special mother and daughter dance.
“She surprised me,” says Lisa. “The DJ announced, ‘Surprise dance for the most important person in Samantha’s life!’ I busted out crying. That tells you who she is and what relationship we had.”
The song Samantha chose was Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”
Lisa said that Sam was this “bright light everywhere she went.”
“She loved everybody unconditionally and just wanted everybody to feel good and not to ever feel bad,” Lisa says. “At the wedding, she was just shining. When I looked at her a few times, it was almost like she had this light coming off her face. And the way the whole thing happened, it was almost like she was already an angel.”
The couple left their reception at around 10pm on April 28. They got into a golf cart and sat next to each other. There were two men escorting them, Benjamin Garrett and Brogan Garrett. The couple were being driven to a beach house to begin their married life together.
“The last thing I remember her saying is she wanted the night to never end,” Aric said. “That’s the last thing she said to me.”
Aric has said that he doesn’t remember anything after that until he woke up in hospital. “I remember waking up. It’s kind of foggy, out of sorts,” Aric told ABC. “I could see my mom’s face, and you could just tell that something was wrong. I asked her, ‘Where’s Sam? Where’s Sam?’ And that’s when she told me there was an incident and that Sam didn’t make it.”
The golf cart that the couple had been riding in had been rear-ended at 65mph in a 25mph zone. The impact sent the golf cart flying 100 yards and rolling over several times.
Sam died at the scene in her wedding dress.
The driver of the vehicle that hit the couple was 25-year-old Jamie Lee Komoroski.
Jamie Lee reportedly smelled of alcohol but refused to take a sobriety test.
She was charged with three felony DUIs resulting in great bodily injury or death and one count of reckless homicide.
When asked how she felt on a scale of 1 to 10 — with 10 being completely sober — Jamie Lee allegedly rated herself an 8, WCIV reported.
Jamie Lee had a blood alcohol level of 0.261 percent, per the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s toxicology report, WCSC reported. The legal limit in South Carolina is 0.08.
Jamie Lee was asked what happened at the scene and she said “I was driving, and then all of a sudden something hit me.”
Multiple witnesses at the scene said Jamie Lee seemed “dazed and confused.” She kept asking for her boyfriend and telling the witnesses she was on her way home.
Once she saw the victims on the ground, Jamie Lee started screaming and asking what happened, witnesses say.
Jamie Lee told police that she had a beer and a drink with tequila about an hour before the crash.
Sam’s Maid of Honor Ashley Favret spoke of finding out about the crash. “Her brother-in-law came into the room and said there was an accident. I remember hearing the sirens and I texted both Sam and Aric to see if they were OK and nobody answered me.”
After the crash, Aric was in a serious condition and had to have two reconstruction surgeries. He also suffered numerous broken bones, and a brain injury. Ben and Brogan were also injured, Ben seriously.
This info about their injuries is from the GFM which raised $734k before it was disabled.
For Aric the grief from losing Sam, his injuries, and other stress factors, have been so hard on him, he has gone to the emergency room five times and been re-admitted to the hospital twice due to severe pain and nausea. There he was diagnosed with stomach ulcers, duodenitis, and gastritis. Since he hasn’t improved, an endoscopy is scheduled for later this month. He has lost over 20 pounds. After four months, he is still in a great deal of pain from his other injuries. He is undergoing physical therapy for his legs and the broken vertebrae’s in his back. In addition, he now has knee pain that will most likely need surgery. He only recently was able to drive. To provide care for Aric, his pets, and drive him to all his appointments, I was not able to return to my home in Utah. He also continues visits to an ophthalmologist to determine when he will need additional surgeries (1-3) around his left eye to match it to his right and for the double vision and light sensitivity he is experiencing. He will have several scars on his legs, feet, left ear and eye. He is trying to work when he can, but is not back to full-time.
For my daughter’s family, her husband Ben remained hospitalized in South Carolina for eleven days; his family had to return home without him. He reunited with them in Utah once he was physically able to make the flight across country, after first visiting the scene of the crash. His severe road rash still requires some wound care. He also is left with several scars on his face, head, and arms. In addition, Ben is experiencing intense pain due to what initially was thought to be from his cracked pelvis and deep bruising. However, more MRI’s revealed a labrum tear and separated sacroiliac (SI) joint in his hip and two broken vertebrae in his middle back. He is now walking with the use of a cane. He has been referred to a spine clinic and neurosurgeon along with his orthopedic surgeon to determine if hip or back surgery is necessary or might relieve some pain. In the meantime, he is also attending physical therapy. We are forever grateful that my daughter’s son Brogan was relatively uninjured, other than a concussion, bruises, scratches, and soreness.
In May, Aric filed a wrongful death suit against Jamie Lee and several local bars and restaurants where she allegedly drank the night of the crash. The suit alleged that Jamie Lee had been bar hopping before getting behind the wheel.
This info is from CNN:
The lawsuit, which is also an injury lawsuit filed by the brother-in-law and nephew, claims Komoroski visited the El Gallo Bar and Grill in Charleston before making her way to Folly Beach, where she began bar hopping on Center Street, with stops at several bars and restaurants.
“Despite being noticeably and visibly intoxicated at each of these establishments,” the lawsuit states, “Jaime Komoroski continued to be served, provided, and/or allowed to consume additional alcohol at each of them.”
“The state grants restaurants and bars a license for the privilege to serve alcohol, and with that privilege comes a responsibility to the community to serve patrons responsibly and to deny service to individuals who are visibly intoxicated,” Danny Dalton, Hutchinson’s attorney, said.
Jamie Lee was a new employee of a local restaurant, Taco Boy, and her supervisor is accused of “organizing, arranging, and supervising an employee function/meeting knowing that excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages would be purchased for, served to, and consumed by the employees attending the function/meeting,” the lawsuit says.
Taco Boy said in a statement in response to the lawsuit: “We can confirm with absolute certainty that Jamie Komoroski did not set foot in Taco Boy, nor did anyone on our team serve her alcohol at the restaurant. We have confirmed this by watching 16 hours of video footage from multiple cameras, staff interviews with everyone working that day, and by reviewing all sales receipts.”
A hearing for Jamie Lee was held in August 2023. A judge requested that a trial be expedited to take place in May 2024, but noted that if it did not happen by then, Jamie Lee, could be released on $150,000 surety bond — meaning a second party must guarantee to pay the amount if the borrower defaults — and placed under house arrest. Jamie Lee “looked visibly shaken throughout the proceeding,” per ABC News.
Sam’s mother Lisa told the court, “She didn’t just kill my child. She killed all of us.”
In August, News 4 obtained around 99 phone and video calls Jamie Lee made during the period of April 30 to May 24, 2023, to family, friends and her boyfriend.
In those calls, intimate details about daily life are heard: the food she ate, her favorite snacks, what her parents did for work that day, the loneliness of jail, and the uncertainty of the legal process.
On April 30, Jamie Lee called her father:
In a call with her father, she said she can’t believe what is happening.
She asks her dad, why me? Why is this happening to me?
He tells her it’s just “one of them things, Jamie.”
“It’s just happened, you know. It was a mistake,” he said.
The conversation continues.
Jamie: “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I’m going to be here for years and years and years and years and years.”
Dad: “Listen, we’re going to work on that. Listen, you just, just get thru the first day, get thru the second day, get thru the first week, get thru the second week, take it day by day.”
Jamie: “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I can’t, I can’t. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I can’t, I can’t.”
Dad: “You’re going to have to toughen up baby.”
Jamie: “I’m so sorry.”
Dad: “Jamie, listen, there’s nothing to be sorry about. It was a tragic accident, you did not do anything on purpose. It was a tragic accident.”
“Listen, baby girl, I’m going to do everything I can for you,” her dad said.
“You’re the best Daddio in the world,” Jamie Lee said. “I love you.”
On May 20, Jamie Lee spoke to her mother. She told her mom she was scared and that she hoped they let her out on bond.
“You’ve been a good kid all your life. You’ve never gotten in trouble. All those things matter now,” her mom said.
“You’re not a danger to society,” her mother said. “I am crossing my fingers and have hope and faith that they are going to give it to you.”.
In October 2023, Aric reached a tentative settlement with two of the bars involved in the wrongful death suit.
The Drop In Bar & Deli and The Crab Shack have agreed to pay “certain sums” to Aric Hutchinson that were described by his lawyer as “reasonable,” according to a Sept. 28 petition for approval in Charleston County Court in South Carolina.
The settlement is confidential, and the case will continue against other defendants, Hutchinson’s attorney, Daniel Dalton, said in an email. A judge must approve the settlement.
Sam’s maid of honor, Ashley Favret said “Just pure joy from her. She was so happy. It was definitely the best day of her life. She died the happiest she’s ever been.”
Lisa, Sam’s mother has been trying to find some positivity from her daughter’s death.
“I’d like to turn this into a positive,” she tells PEOPLE. “Sam would want me to do that. You are not even aware of all the tragedy that drinking and driving causes, because you only hear about the big stories, but it’s so rampant and we need to do something about it.”
She adds: “Don’t say, ‘Poor Sam,’ and ‘Poor Sam’s family.’ Do something about it. Spread the awareness, talk to your friends, talk to your friends’ kids. Tell them what to do if they’re going to go out drinking, drink responsibly. Don’t mind your business because you know what? It might be your family one day.”
“If you’re going to go out and drink, you make preparations of how you’re going to get home before you’re drinking,” says Lisa. “You don’t just go make the decision to sit at a bar all day and spend that money and not have enough money to take an Uber home.”
THE DEATH OF MARINA MORGAN
On June 11, 2022, Robbie Awad, also known as Robbie Morgan, married Marina in Sydney, Australia. Marina was 29 and Robbie was 30.
The couple had originally set their wedding date as July 24, 2021, but they moved it due to Covid lockdowns.
The pair eventually wed at St Mary and St Merkorious Coptic Orthodox Church on June 11, 2022. Their reception was held at Doltone House near Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD.
Their ceremony and reception were very lavish.
After the wedding, the couple flew to Hamilton Island in Queensland for their honeymoon. Transport on Hamilton Island is by golf cart – you usually get one with your accommodation or you can rent one.
I believe the couple arrived in Hamilton Island on June 13. On June 20, Robbie was driving their golf cart when he realized the battery was running low. He wanted to return to charge it. He attempted U-turn on the corner of Coral Sea Ave and Whitsunday Boulevard on the island, which caused the cart to roll over.
Acting Inspector Anthony Cowan said “It appears the battery on the buggy may have gone flat so he [the driver] has conducted a U-turn to go back and charge it up, and whilst turning the buggy has rolled on its side,” he said.
Marina was not wearing a seatbelt and she fell from the cart onto the road.
Witnesses including an off-duty firefighter, a doctor and dentist tried to save Marina at the scene for 35 minutes but were unsuccessful.
A helicopter that was called to take her Townsville hospital was stood down after the severity of her injuries were realised.
This info about the crash is from news.com.au
‘A paramedic arrived on the scene within minutes to find the woman off the road and placed in a “lateral position to clear her airway”.
“She was in cardiac arrest and along with a number of first-aiders on the island performed resuscitation for 35 minutes without success.
“On Hamilton Island we have to wait with the deceased person until police are able to collect the person,” he said.
“So it is quite confronting emotionally for paramedics involved.”
Robbie spoke to the media after his wife’s death. ‘She was radiating before she left [this life]. She never looked so beautiful,’ he said.
‘It was because God was calling her home.
‘She is an angel. There are no two ways about it.’
‘She was always our angel, now she is with God in the kingdom of heaven,’ he said.
‘We will all miss her forever.’
Marina’s funeral was held on July 2, in the same church where she got married, three weeks after her big day.
Robbie was charged in relation to Marina’s death. He was charged with driving without due care and attention, using a mobile phone while driving, failing to wear a seatbelt as a driver, and passengers 16 years or older failing to wear approved seat belts. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Robbie’s lawyer was berated by the court in July 2023 for not answering calls. His new lawyer was lectured after requested to appear in court via telephone but failed to answer the phone.
‘We’ve called you twice and both times it rung out,’ Acting Magistrate Stephen Byrne said.
‘If you want the convenience of appearing by phone you or someone else has got to answer your phone otherwise it’s just not going to happen and you’re going to have to appoint agents.’
There was a court hearing in August 2023. Murphy’s Lawyers defence solicitor Bryan Wrench told Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday the prosecution had not yet handed over the “particulars” of the negligence or without due care. The defence asked for a further adjournment of four to five weeks so they had time to prepare a submission to the prosecution.
Graeme McIntyre from the Queensland Ambulance Service spoke about the dangers of golf carts. “They are a completely different type of vehicle to drive,” he said.
“Particularly with Hamilton Island, with the narrow roadways and hills, it’s tricky to manoeuvre.”
There have been other incidents involving carts on the island. In June 2022, a man in his 30s suffered serious head injuries and was flown to Townsville Hospital after falling from a buggy.
In 2016 eight people, including a nine-month-old girl, were injured when two motorised buggies crashed.
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