S.C. woman has questions about father’s in-custody death, wants apology

S.C. woman has questions about father’s in-custody death, wants apology
Dash cam video from the South Carolina Highway Patrol showed Tim Ward being arrested on March 8. He died on March 11 and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating his death. (Source: WYFF/WYFF/S.C. Highway Patrol)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WYFF) - A woman is asking for answers after her father’s death three days after he was arrested in Greenville County.

Tim Ward died on March 11 and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating his death.

On March 8, Ward was hauling a shipment of chicken from North Carolina to Georgia. Witnesses calling 911 said Ward’s truck started veering off the side of the Interstate 85 South in Spartanburg County, and it kept happening until he eventually stopped in Greenville County near Pelham Road.

A South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper’s report details the hour leading up to Ward’s arrest.

The trooper’s first interaction with him was in Ward’s cab. The report said Ward was in the back of the cab trying to pop polyps. Ward had his shorts undone.

The trooper’s dash cam recording shows Ward and the trooper were in the cab for nearly 10 minutes as the trooper tried to get Ward to fasten his shorts.

Ward was never able to get the shorts buttoned.

“That’s when I began to believe that Mr. Ward was possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” the trooper wrote in his report.

Ward told the trooper he did not drink.

The trooper attempted a field sobriety test, according to the report and the dashcam vide.

The trooper’s report shows Ward was unable to follow the tip of a pen as the trooper moved it. The report and video both show Ward could not walk on a straight line.

Throughout the test, Ward continued to try to button his shorts but was unable to do so.

Lesa Benjamin, Ward’s daughter, has watched the video and read the report.

She believes her father may have had a stroke while he was driving.

“If the trooper felt like there was something wrong, which several times he did say ‘I’m concerned,’ he should have called for EMS to come out, but that never happened,” Benjamin said.

The trooper asked Ward twice if EMS needed to be called. Each time, Ward said, “no.”

That message was even relayed to dispatchers who asked if there was a medical issue. They were told Ward said there was no medical emergency.

A spokesman for Highway Patrol said troopers receive CPR training but said the Criminal Justice Academy would be able to answer any questions around training for spotting the signs of a medical emergency.

A spokeswoman for the academy said first aid is no longer taught.

“I actually was screaming at the computer for the trooper to get him help because I knew something was wrong,” Benjamin said.

Ward was arrested and charged with DUI, according to the report.

“I’m placing you under arrest for driving under the influence, okay?” the trooper said to Ward.

“I’m not drunk,” Ward replied.

“I don’t think you’re drunk,” the trooper said. “I think you’re under the influence of some kind of prescription medication.”

Ward was taken to the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center to perform a breath test. He was not able to complete the test, according to the trooper’s report.

Ward’s autopsy report picks up the timeline from there.

It says Ward was taken to the hospital for a blood alcohol test which was ultimately negative.

Ward fell while leaving the hospital, according to the report. It says he was evaluated again and “no significant neurological deficits were noted.”

The trooper’s report of this shows several nurses were called to help Ward. His wounds were cleaned and bandaged. He was evaluated by medical personnel and cleared for release.

He was taken to the Greenville County Detention Center and developed left-sided weakness later that night, according to his autopsy. The report says he was taken back to the hospital.

“Hospital imaging revealed a right-sided cerebrovascular accident,” the autopsy reads. A coroner’s official confirmed that is a stroke.

Ward was pronounced brain dead three days later. His official cause of death is listed as hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to the autopsy report.

Benjamin wants to know why the trooper did not call for medical help. She wants to know why the emergency room staff cleared her father, allowing him to be taken to the detention center.

“I’d like an apology,” Benjamin said. “I just want everybody to know that my daddy did not die, in my heart, he did not die a criminal. He was never one.”

Benjamin cannot legally file a lawsuit on Ward’s behalf. That authority belongs to Ward’s wife, Arlene. She directed questions to her legal team. A lawyer representing Ward said they were still gathering information in the case.

The Highway Patrol, Greenville County and the hospital’s management have not commented on the case.

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