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Driver of pickup truck involved in deadly crash arrested

Gaston, SC (Paul Kirby) – The driver of a Ford pickup truck that was involved in a deadly accident near Gaston Saturday evening has been arrested. Royce Kopacz Jr., 54, was taken into custody just before 10:00 p.m. Saturday after he fled the scene of the accident that occurred on Hwy. 321 near Gardners Terrace Road earlier in the evening.

According to state troopers, Kopacz was driving a 2007 Chevrolet pickup south on Hwy. 321 toward Swansea. He got behind a Ford Expedition travelling in the same direction. Kopacz’s truck hit the rear of the Ford causing it to spin. As it careened out of control and overturned, 49 year old Jeff Coswell, who was a passenger in the SUV, was ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of his injuries. The driver of the Expedition was transported to a Prisma Health’s Richland campus and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Once Kopacz was taken into custody, troopers charged him with reckless homicide, felony hit-and-run resulting in death, and felony hit-and-run resulting in great bodily injury. He was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center where he was Monday morning pending trial. His request for bond was denied Sunday. The South Carolina Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the incident with the assistance of the SCHP's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team.

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