A man from Columbus County has pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon – a pickup truck – two years after an incident in which he struck and caused serious personal injuries to a Tabor City woman who was walking down a sidewalk in downtown Whiteville.


Ethan Zane Small entered a plea of guilty and could face more than three years in prison as a result. He was sentenced in Columbus County Superior Court to serve between 24 and 38 months in prison.


Under the plea deal Small reached with prosecutors, two other charges of assault with a deadly weapon, a charge of breaking into a vehicle and larceny, and a charge of drug trafficking were dismissed.


Small, now 20, was in custody minutes after striking then 22-year-old Jessie Buffkin as she was walking on the sidewalk at Main and 4th streets. He was arrested four days later.


Buffkin sustained a severely broken right leg that required extensive surgeries to repair.


On the day of the October 2008 incident, Small encountered another man, Jordan Manning, not long after the two had exchanged words, according to investigators. Witnesses say Manning reached into the vehicle Small was driving and struck him in the face. That prompted Small to make two attempts to run him over.


On his second try, Small drove the Nissan Pathfinder he was in over the curb and onto the sidewalk, where he struck Buffkin, who was walking with others to a drug store, investigators said.


Small left the scene, but stopped just around the corner.

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