Pelion, SC (Paul Kirby) – Detectives with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes unit are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a young man near a Pelion bar and turkey shoot in early February. According to the Incident Investigation Report, the man was Timothy L. Padgett. Padgett had formerly worked for the Sheriff’s Department in the detention center. He was fired in 2018 after being accused of Domestic Violence, third degree while arguing with his wife. His wife, Rayanna Lee Padgett, was eventually arrested on those same charges stemming from that incident later the same week.
On February 7th of this year, Timothy Padgett showed up in the parking area of Breakaways Pelion, a bar and restaurant on Hwy. 178 just south of the town. He was riding in a car with an unidentified woman who was driving. According to a report written by a deputy, the pair were already intoxicated when they arrived. He concluded this by their actions after watching video footage later. Patrons and witnesses say they never entered the bar. Before they could come in, an argument ensued between the pair outside. In a matter of a few hours, 31-year-old Timothy Padgett would be pronounced dead at a hospital after he went into cardiac arrest. The key question is, what caused his heart to stop?
According to the law enforcement report written by a deputy that responded, Padgett and a woman arrived at the bar just before 10:30 p.m. that Friday. Witnesses say the couple were arguing both inside and outside the car they arrived in at various points.
Deputies had surveillance footage from Breakaways to help with their investigation. It was also discovered later that the turkey shoot, another business next door, also had cameras and that footage was made available to investigators. The video shows Padgett having what one deputy described in his report as a, “verbal argument,” inside the parked car. According to people that were there that night, that footage could be key to determining exactly what happened as well.
The surveillance footage from Breakaways shows Padgett get out the car using the passenger door during a lull in the argument. Instead of heading toward the bar, he stumbled in the opposite direction. The deputy’s narrative described Padgett as appearing to be very intoxicated. He almost fell several times as he tried to walk.
The driver, whose name was redacted in the report because she is being considered the victim of domestic violence, adjusted the car’s position in the parking spot but finally parked. Padgett went back and got back into the car on the passenger side and the couple’s argument resumed. Later, the woman got out the car and stumbled around herself as if she were intoxicated. The deputy noted in his report after seeing the footage that the woman, “Almost fell over and barely missed hitting the car door with her head.” Eventually, she turned around and got back into the car. The argument resumed.
Video shows that things began to get more physical. It caught the woman driver trying to get out of the car but, “Timothy tried to grab her arm.” The deputy’s narrative says, “She swatted at his hand and exited the vehicle.” He saw this watching Breakaways’ video footage. The female also skipped going inside the bar. Instead, she walked through the parking lot heading toward a nearby turkey shoot and Track Road as if she had decided to just walk away.
Padgett moved into the driver’s seat of the car and began to follow her. After catching up, he parked the car, and got out. The Breakaways video lost sight of him at this point. The next time he was seen on those cameras, two men were on top of Padgett holding him down on the ground. Several witnesses we spoke with say the men were simply trying to restrain him because he had gotten physical with the woman and several men before they began holding him down.
Both men were separated by deputies after they arrived, and each gave statements regarding what went on off camera. One said he heard a woman scream, “Get him off me,” so he ran toward the screams. He got to a point where he could see around the car and recognized the woman who had arrived with Padgett down on the ground. He said Padgett was standing in front of the car. This was all closer to the turkey shoot and Track Road, not at Breakaways. The turkey shoot footage from their camera system is now in the hands of detectives too. The man who rushed toward the scream asked the woman to come with him and together, they walked back toward the parking lot of the bar. This version of events is backed up by several others there who also gave similar statements.
Padgett drove the car from the Track Road area near the turkey shoot back to the bar’s parking lot. He got out of the car and without warning, charged toward the man helping the woman. By now, another man had joined him as Padgett charged. One of the men tackled Padgett and took him to the ground. The men physically restrained him face down on the ground. These details are provided from several statements by people who saw all this go down.
The two men told deputies they pinned Padgett’s arms to the ground to prevent him from kicking, fighting, and injuring himself or others until law enforcement could arrive. Padgett bit one of the men on the thumb hard enough to leave marks that a deputy saw and documented. When Padgett stopped struggling, the two men got up and let him go. Padgett made no attempt to get up and at some point, the people standing around him noticed he didn’t appear to be conscious or breathing. One of the men involved asked a woman to call 911 and request an ambulance. Two people began doing CPR on Padgett.
Lexington County’s 911 Center dispatched deputies, EMS, and firefighters to Breakaways. The deputy arrived first and secured the scene. He took over CPR from the civilians. When firefighters arrived, they administered a dose of Narcan to Padgett. Narcan is a medication that counteracts the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and strong pain killers. It is issued and used in the case of overdoses. After the Narcan was given, the firefighters took over CPR. That’s when the deputy began talking to the people who witnessed the scuffle asking them about how a 31-year-old man was laying on the ground in cardiac arrest.
Padgett was eventually transported by EMS to the Lexington Medical Center. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. As the law requires, Coroner Margaret Fisher’s staff was notified, and they began an investigation into what killed Padgett.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Departments Major Crimes unit was requested by the deputies at the scene and detectives responded. When they arrived, they interviewed multiple people who either saw what happened or were involved. Witness statements were taken, evidence was collected, and eventually the video from the turkey shoot and Breakaways was reviewed. At this point, no one knows exactly why the young man died.
Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said in an e-mail Thursday, February 20th that she couldn’t release information regarding Padgett’s death right now. “This is an active investigation, so the cause and manner of this death is still pending at this time,” she wrote.
The determination of what killed Timothy Padgett is a key piece of this complicated puzzle. Once Fisher has received the autopsy and any other special reports from the pathologist and any other experts, she should be able to provide a definitive cause and manner of death. Coroner Fisher will provide investigators with those results and if necessary, they will consult with the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office to determine if a crime was committed.
There are a number of ways this could go. If Coroner Fisher’s work reveals that Padgett died of a medical condition, another set of questions arises. Was the medical emergency brought on by the struggle with the men outside Breakaways Pelion or was it bound to happen no matter what Timothy Padgett was doing? Did whatever Padgett used to make himself intoxicated play a part in all this? During the process of being restrained by the two men, was Padgett physically injured severely enough to kill him? If he was, the investigators and attorneys will have to determine whether the men’s actions were justified by Padgett’s own action or a fear that if they allowed him to continue unrestrained, he would injure or kill them or someone else. All of this will need to be decided and Coroner Fisher’s report will play a huge role in answering these questions.
By this time, Fisher should have the autopsy report in hand. Toxicology reports and the results of any other special test she may have requested could take longer still. Her final report must not be rushed because it is key to whether any criminal charges may be filed.
Captain Adam Myrick, spokesman for the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, said by e-mail Thursday that they are still considering this an active investigation. At this point, no one has been arrested in the case.