Man in Fort Mill wreck faces charges in Steele Creek woman's death

jmcfadden@heraldonline.com, slyttle@charlotteobserver.comJune 17, 2014 

— A Fort Mill man who authorities say was seriously injured in a crash on Monday has been accused of killing his girlfriend a night earlier in Mecklenburg County, according to police.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have charged Jimmy Wayne Estes, 51, of Fort Mill with murder in connection with the death of Frances Gutnick, found suffering from assault wounds in her home on Buckland Road in the Steele Creek subdivision, according to a news release.

Gutnick, 52, was found dead at about 11 p.m. Sunday.

Estes, who lives on Williams Road in Fort Mill, had been in a relationship with Gutnick, police said.

On Monday, Estes suffered injuries in a serious crash on U.S. 21, officials say.

WBTV is reporting that authorities in South Carolina believe Estes was trying to commit suicide when he slammed into the truck.

Estes, who suffered a serious head injury and broken bones, will be officially charged once he's released from the hospital.

Flint Hill Fire Department Deputy Chief Bruce Byrnes said Estes was driving a Lexus when he collided with a scrap steel truck. The truck rolled over on its side. The driver of the truck was treated at the scene by EMTs from Piedmont Medical Center, but was not taken by ambulence for further treatment, Byrnes said.

Meanwhile, a fire erupted in the engine compartment of the Lexus but was put out by two other people driving by the scene before the fire department arrived, Byrnes said.

Zach DeLisi of Troutman, N.C., said he and his father Ted, were headed to Fort Mill when they noticed the Lexus on fire. Ted DeLisi and another person put the fire out using two fire extinguishers.

"Nobody else had taken action," Zach DeLisi said. "There was a woman holding (a fire extinguisher) but she wasn't doing aything quick enough."

According to Zach DeLisi, they saw the man wedged between the dashboard and the passenger side seat, but had difficulty opening the passenger side door because of the damage to the car. One bystander was able to open the door, which caused the man’s head to lean out of the car, DeLisi said, so bystanders supported his head until emergency vehicles arrived. DeLisi said the driver of the scrap steel truck was also trying to help the driver of the Lexus.

After hearing about the charges Estes face, DeLisi said he doesn't feel any different about having helped him.

"Not at all," he said. "Wow. It's weird. But I'm glad we helped him. Just like...maybe he would have helped us if we needed it."

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call detectives at 704-432-TIPS, or leave the information with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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Freelance reporter Casey White contributed to this story

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