The husbands of two young women killed barely a week apart in Greenville by hit-and-run drivers have established memorials in their honor to raise money for community needs.
Brittany Langley Lawson, 38, was struck by an SUV while running on the sidewalk beside a busy thoroughfare on May 29. Carli Brewer Soukup, 33, was hit June 6 while riding a bicycle on the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail at the Sulphur Springs Road crossing. Her husband of six months, Ryan, was with her.
Lawson’s husband, Scott, has set up the Brittney Langley Lawson Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Greenville to raise money for a project to install benches in the community.
“The family has plans to create special places in Brittany’s honor where people can sit, gather together, and revel in the joy of life, as Brittany so often did,” family members wrote in her obituary.
They said she loved sharing the outdoors with her pre-school age children, Harrison and Hampton, and often had picnics with them on park benches.
“She never took the preciousness and gift of that time for granted. Brittany understood, to paraphrase the writer Robert Breault, that those seemingly little moments were actually life’s biggest. Many of these outings included the family’s cherished Goldendoodle, Chloe, who passed away alongside her,” the obituary said.
She was a longtime cardiac care unit nurse and recently had begun teaching nursing.
In honor of Carli Soukup, Ryan Soukup said on the web page announcing his fundraising effort that he wants to raise $518,088 — the number represents his wife’s birthdate — to go toward improving crosswalks along the popular 20-mile-long Swamp Rabbit trail.
Ty Houck, director of greenways, natural and historic resources for Greenville County Recreation District, said there are 54 places where the trail crosses a road, and 11 tunnels have been built so far. Four bridges and one tunnel are in the design phase.
In 2019, 77-year-old bike rider Ellis Bailey of Greer died while crossing Watkins Bridge Road on the Swamp Rabbit. He did not stop before entering the road and was hit by a car.
The driver was not charged.
The spots where Lawson and Soukup were killed are roughly a mile apart.
Ryan Soukup said he also wants to establish a fund for children to get mental health therapy in school. Greenville County, through Greater Greenville Mental Health, has a therapist in each school, but unless the child is on Medicaid there is a fee.
Greenville County parents owe about $132,000, some invoices dating back years, according to the health agency.
As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of about $36,000 had been raised.
Soukup is also planning a memorial bike ride in honor of his wife on Saturday that will end at the location where she was killed.
Her students at Mitchell Road Elementary School have been asked to participate by decorating the trail with chalk and holding signs for the bikers as they ride through.
“We want this to be a cheerful and happy event,” Soukup said.
Mantavious McMorris was arrested Tuesday in connection with Carli Soukup’s death. He is charged with hit and run with death, reckless homicide, habitual offender causing death when license has been suspended and a third offense of driving under suspension.
Public records show he had been cited for driving without a license and as a habitual traffic offender days before Soukup was killed. The truck he was driving had been reported stolen, Corporal Joe Hovis of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said.
McMorris is being held in the Greenville County Detention Center after a judge refused to allow bond.
In the bond hearing Wednesday morning, McMorris entered the court saying in a sing-song voice “hi, (expletive).” He said he had nothing to do with Soukup’s death. Carli’s mother told the court her son-in-law was receiving in-patient care due to the trauma.
Wanda Brewer Ickes said McMorris stripped her daughter from them as well as her bright future. Carli Soukup had made a list of all the things she wanted to do this summer.
In the case of Brittany Lawson, Veronica Dawn, 33, has been charged with reckless homicide, hit and run with death and driving under suspension.
She is being held at the Greenville County Detention Center without bond.
She was out on bond for a number of charges from 2020 including stolen vehicle and grand larceny and for trespassing and possession of methamphetamine in April of this year. She has a lengthy history of convictions including child neglect and drug charges.