Some of the best of South Carolina
One coached football when he wasn't fighting fires. Another cut hair at a barbershop. Yet another was known for quoting the Bible. They called each other nicknames like "Squirrel" and "Lightning."
On Tuesday, this city on the South Carolina coast mourned them all: nine firefighters killed inside a burning furniture store in the nation's worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 World Trade Center attack.
"They did exactly what they were trained to do," fire Chief Rusty Thomas said.
The men ranged in age from 27 to 56 and together had 131 years of experience with the Charleston Fire Department.
At 56, James "Earl" Drayton, known around the fire station as "Squirrel," was the oldest of the group. With 32 years on the job, he could have been enjoying retirement.
Michael French was the youngest firefighter at 27, and had joined just 18 months ago.
Melvin Champaign was nicknamed "Pimp Daddy" because of his flashy clothes. But the name belied his love of Bible study.
Capt. Billy Hutchinson, a 30-year veteran, was jokingly tagged "Lightning" because of his slow, deliberate pace. Hutchinson, 48, worked off-duty at a barber shop. His funeral has been scheduled for Friday.
Brad Baity, 37, was a part-time house painter. Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34, helped coach football and basketball players at Summerville High School, where he had played quarterback.
Also killed were Capt. Mike Benke, 49; Mark Kelsey, 40; and Brandon Thompson, 37
And the worst of South Carolina
State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was indicted on federal drug charges Tuesday and was suspended from office by Gov. Mark Sanford.
Ravenel, 44, and Michael L. Miller of Mount Pleasant are charged with one count each of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.
Ravenel was elected treasurer in November. The charge filed Tuesday said he has “knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully possess(ed) with intent to distribute” cocaine since at least late 2005.
The case grew out of a Charleston Police Department investigation into narcotics, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said.
The Charleston police asked for SLED’s assistance in that investigation, Stewart said.
“Information was developed that state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel allegedly was involved in this illegal activity,” Stewart said at a news conference.
Stewart asked the FBI and U.S. attorney to join the investigation April 1, once the case involved a statewide elected official who “administers the use of vast public funds.”
Editor's note, piss ant pretty boy above comes from a old South Carolina family with high hopes that this idiot would have a bright political career with no limits to how high he could go. While I usually take no satisfaction in seeing any person fall I must admit to this being an exception.