Speed Limit 25 MPH

Written and Photographed by Silvia Pettem

On April 28, 2023, in the small city of Folly Beach near Charleston, South Carolina, an alleged speeding-and-drunk driver killed a bride on her wedding night. True crime readers have been drawn into the story for months. It captured the public’s interest because it was almost like something that couldn’t happen. But it did. Samantha Miller and Aric Hutchinson’s beach wedding was followed by a joyous reception. By 10 p.m., two members of the wedding party had offered to drive the newlyweds to rental accommodations for their wedding night. The couple, who had only been married for five hours, sat in the back of a low-speed vehicle (LSV)—similar to a golf cart but legal for driving at night, as it was equipped with safety features including headlights, tail lights, and turn signals. The locals call Folly Beach “the edge of America.” Located on a six-mile-long barrier island, the city and all of its streets have the same speed limit — 25 mph. Also that evening, local resident Jamie Komoroski was on her way home from hours of bar-hopping. She drove 65 mph — 40 mph more than the island’s speed limit. Police records showed her blood-alcohol level at three times over the legal limit. At 1218 East Ashley Avenue, Jamie plowed into the back of the LSV. After the crash, Aric, the groom, lay in a coma. Another passenger was seriously injured. Samantha, still wearing her wedding dress, was pronounced dead at the scene from blunt-force injuries. According to the Folly Beach Department of Public Safety, Jamie was not injured at all. When a police officer asked her what happened, she stated, “Something hit me.” She refused sobriety tests at the scene but police noted that she smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on her feet. They transported her to the Charleston County Jail where she was charged with “three counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury or death.” “Why did this have to happen to me?” Jamie asked her father in a well-publicized jailhouse phone call. The stark difference between the innocent bride and the drunk driver couldn’t have been greater. Jamie’s father’s reply was, “Because bad things happen to good people, honey. That’s why.” Jamie took a lot of criticism from true-crime readers for refusing to take responsibility for her actions. At least in that initial call, she didn’t ask about the bride or the bride’s family. For Jamie, the crash was only about her. In August 2023, Jamie was denied bond. In September, a Charleston County grand jury returned indictments on the felony DUI charges, as well as one count of reckless homicide. Jamie’s now waiting in the Charleston County Jail for her trial in March 2024. Those following her story will be sure to tune in. Meanwhile, the groom, who had broken bones and a brain injury, reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit he filed against two bars that were said to have continued to serve Jamie after she became visibly intoxicated. If found guilty, Jamie will likely face many years in prison. Only afterward, will she be able to put together the pieces of her life –– something Samantha, the bride, can never do.