Tragedy Strikes University Of South Carolina And Hit And Run Suspect In Police Custody In Lexington County

Your Charleston attorneys at Howell and Christmas were particularly upset to see a fairly large article in today’s Post and Courier outlining a major auto accident in which four young people were killed near the University of South Carolina’s famed Williams-Brice Stadium. According to the Richland County Coroner’s Office, two of the victims were male (both 22 years of age) and two were female (ages 23 and 24). Also, three of the four victims were currently enrolled at the University of South Carolina; one male was a student last semester.

The fatal car crash occurred just before dawn last Wednesday morning when the car missed a sharp curve near the football stadium. The car proceeded to slam into the Farm Bureau Building on George Rodgers Blvd. Minutes later, the vehicle burst into flames. Returning to the scene Friday, investigators were combing through the wreckage to try and find answers as to the cause of this unfortunate car accident, more specifically, why the driver lost control of the vehicle and the speed at which the vehicle was travelling. Police do suspect that the male driver and front passenger were not wearing their seat belts when the crash occurred.

The Richland County Coroner also said that it was one of the young female’s 23rd birthday and that the group had been seen together at several Columbia nightspots prior to the fatal car accident on George Rogers Blvd. From the autopsies it appeared that all four young people would have been killed by multiple trauma, not serious burn injuries, prior to the vehicle burst into flames, but it will take a couple of weeks to complete toxicology reports and determine if those results played a role in causing the accident.

As investigators from the Columbia Police Department, University of South Carolina Police, Richland County Coroner’s Office, Columbia-Richland Fire Department, and the South Carolina Highway Patrol try to uncover unanswered questions surrounding the crash, University of South Carolina officials have offered their condolences to the victims’ friends and family and have extended a helping hand in the form of counselors made available to grieving students and staff.

Unrelated, but also happening in the Columbia, South Carolina area, the South Carolina Highway Patrol has identified the alleged driver of a fatal hit and run accident that occurred early this past Saturday morning around 4:00 a.m. According to reports, the alleged driver hit a 31-year-old woman riding her moped on Interstate 26 near Interstate 20 with his 2002 Dodge Caravan. The driver of the van is being charged with “leaving the scene with death,” which is a serious criminal charge in South Carolina, and is being held at Lexington County Detention Center while the collision remains under investigation.

According to South Carolina Code of Laws, leaving the scene of an accident where a death occurs is a felony charge, and if convicted, carries a maximum penalty of 25-years in prison and possible fines ranging from $5,000 all the way up to $25,000.

However, it is curious to your lawyers in Charleston as to why the victim in this accident was riding her moped on an interstate. The use of a moped on an interstate seems altogether extremely unsafe considering that mopeds, by law, can not exceed speeds of 25 mph and is only capable of reaching 30 mph. But, the legal classification of motor vehicles such as “mopeds,” “scooters,” and “motorcycles” is highly technical and takes into account engine size, transmission and breaking specs, as well as top speed capabilities. But given the information provided, it is unsure as to what kind of vehicle (in the eyes of the South Carolina law) the victim was operating in the above mentioned hit and run accident.

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