Drunken driver sentenced to prison for killing Bluffton college student

Drunken driver sentenced to prison for killing Bluffton college student

RIDGELAND, SC (WTOC) - The Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office says a 28-year-old Ridgeland man charged with felony DUI following a head-on collision that killed a Bluffton college student has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Officials say Christopher Lenning plead guilty Wednesday at the Jasper County Courthouse to felony hit and run with death, and felony DUI resulting in death. Lenning was traveling eastbound on S.C. 462 near Dawson Landing Road around 8 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2017. He steered his pickup across the center line and struck a westbound vehicle driven by 18-year-old Caleb Whiteleather.

The impact caused Whiteleather's car to spin around, eventually stopping in a ditch on the side of the road. Officials say Lenning left the scene, where Whiteleather died. Whiteleather had left his parents' Bluffton home just 35 minutes before the wreck. The Winthrop University freshman was headed back to school following the holiday break.

'The defendant had likely been drinking for at least four hours when the collision occurred," Administrative Solicitor Patrick Hall said, in a release.' When officers finally found Mr. Lenning, he had a blood alcohol content of .113. That's more than one-and-a-half times the legal limit.'

Lenning's prior criminal record includes a 2008 conviction of six counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, and DUI.

Circuit Court Judge Brooks P. Goldsmith handed down Lenning's sentence.

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