A man allegedly at-fault for a South Carolina crash that resulted in the deaths of two North Carolina girls and injury to six other people has been charged with reckless homicide. Additional charges could follow, as authorities did cite him for having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Authorities are waiting on toxicology reports.
According to news reports of the violent crash, it happened on Highway 17 Business near the Pirateland Camp Ground in Myrtle Beach.
The defendant was operating a Mercedes with three passengers traveling south bound when he collided with a minivan that was traveling north and then turning left. The van was carrying a family of five, including two girls, ages 11 and 9. They were pronounced dead at the scene as a result of internal injuries.
The van spun out of control after impact and struck a parked vehicle on a private lot nearby. Inside the van were a mother, father, son and niece. The daughter and niece were killed, while the son was transported to the local hospital ICU in critical condition. The mother and father suffered serious injuries as well.
Two of the passengers in the Mercedes were also injured.
The crash shut down the highway for hours as authorities gathered information and cleared the scene so it would be safe for through traffic.
The 47-year-old Mercedes driver was arrested by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. At his first appearance before the judge in criminal court, bond was denied, based on three factors:
- He is from out-of-town (Florida);
- He has a warrant for failure to appear on a domestic violence charge;
- He recently obtained a $4.6 million settlement in a civil lawsuit.
The judge consider him a flight risk.
He had yet to obtain an attorney, but told the judge at his first appearance he had gotten his shoe stuck underneath the accelerator just moments before the auto collision. He was allegedly traveling more than 90 miles-per-hour.
Although the driver is not accused of being impaired, it should be noted that of South Carolina’s 767 traffic deaths reported in 2013, a total of 335 were attributed to drunk driving. That translates to 44 percent, which is much higher than the national average of 31 percent.
In terms of a local comparison, North Carolina officials reported 29 percent of its traffic fatalities were caused by a drunk driver, as were 25 percent of Georgia’s.
As far as speeding, which was unquestionably a factor in this case, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports speed is a contributing factor in a third of all fatal crashes nationally. The annual economic cost to society for speed-related fatal traffic crashes is more than $40 billion.
In these cases, although criminal charges are the first thing we hear about, civil liability lawsuits can be filed to move through the system simultaneously. Wrongful death cases can be complex and arduous, so it’s imperative those affected contact an experienced accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss options.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Driver charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide in crash that killed 2 NC girls, July 22, 2015, WMBF News Staff, WAFB.com
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