Jury convicts Conway man in DUI crash that killed CCU student

Jury convicts Conway man in DUI crash that killed CCU student
Edward Washington (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – A Conway man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in a deadly DUI crash.

Evidence showed that on Oct. 29, 2016, Edward Washington, 33, was driving to Conway on S.C. 544 at Coastal Carolina University when hit and killed 19-year-old Ryan Bielawa.

Bielawa, a CCU student, was crossing the highway to the Circle K convenience store when he was hit.

A blood test showed that Washington had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.239%, which is above the legal driving limit of 0.08%. Authorities said Washington also did not immediately stop at the scene of the crash and returned a few minutes later and started a fight with some witnesses.

“The amount of alcohol consumed at 0.239 is egregious,” Josh Holford, the senior assistant solicitor, said. “A 19-year-old boy lost his life . . . there is no amount of punishment that can serve to replace that life.”

Ryan’s mother, Mary Ellen Bielawa, and his older brother, Kevin Bielawa, asked John for the maximum sentence of 25 years for Washington.

“He had so much life to give, so much to achieve . . . and that’s all gone because Mr. Washington made a choice to get behind the wheel,” Kevin Bielawa said to the court his voice thick with emotions. “Ryan was my only sibling and my best friend.”

Bielawa was a sophomore studying finance at CCU and was interning at a Merrill Lynch.

“Losing Ryan has devastated my life and his brother, Kevin’s, life. It’s always been just the three of us,” she said with tears streaming down her face before Washington was sentenced. “My son was a beautiful person.”

Washington must serve 85% before he is eligible for early release, Holford said.

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