Media Scene

Man who accosted WBTV’s Steve Crump dies in Charleston

A Charleston man who hurled racial slurs at WBTV (Channel 3) reporter Steve Crump – and who later apologized and shook hands in court with the accomplished civil rights documentarian – was found dead over the weekend.

Brian Eybers, 22, died Sunday at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, authorities said Monday. His death is under investigation and it will probably be several weeks until the cause is determined, according to the Charleston County Medical Examiner’s office.

Eybers had been ordered into a substance abuse treatment program by a Charleston County judge when he came to court Oct. 21 on charges of disorderly conduct and possession of a crack pipe stemming from the confrontation. Eybers apologized for his behavior two weeks earlier, when he directed racial slurs at Crump, who was on Broad Street reporting on Hurricane Matthew.

A videotape of the confrontation – which showed Eybers calling Crump the n-word, then spelling it out after Crump asked him what he’d said – was broadcast nationally.

Crump, 59, is the great-great grandson of slaves from Kentucky’s bourbon belt and an Emmy winning producer of public television documentaries on race relations in the South.

“This is an unfortunate outcome,” Crump said Monday. “Everyone was hoping this young man would get some help and turn things around.”

Crump and Eybers met a second time in court on Nov. 21. Eybers’ attorney, Alan Toporek, told the court that his client had been evaluated and was in counseling, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and under treatment for bipolar disorder. Crump and Eybers met and shook hands after the court appearance.

Eybers, an aspiring musician, posted on his Facebook page four days after Thanksgiving that his life was getting in order.

“This year I’m especially thankful for family and friends, but wildly thankful for nurses and doctors for dealing with me at my worst. I’m so sorry to Mr. Steve Crump in Charlotte for seeing me act heinous and ugly in a way that is severely out of character for me,” he wrote.

“I am sober now and working on my mental health above all else. Thanks again to everybody who has stood beside me. I love you all dearly.”

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs