Highway patrol charges 2 drivers in fatal hit-and-runs

Monica Whaley and Cassie Gelzer
Monica Whaley and Cassie Gelzer

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Highway Patrol concluded investigations into three fatal hit-and-run collisions that happened in Berkeley County. The drivers in two of the three accidents were charged, including the driver involved in the death of a Cane Bay High School student.

In each incident, Highway Patrol's Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation (MAIT team), was called out to investigate and help determine whether charges would be filed.

The first hit-and-run happened on Jan. 7 on US 17. Investigators say Courtney Troutman of Moncks Corner struck pedestrian 32-year-old Angelo Mendez with her car. Troutman left the scene, but later returned and notified authorities. Authorities concluded that the death was accidental and they say she will not be charged.

On March 6, troopers say 22-year-old Cassie Gelzer struck 17-year-old Ronny Gallardo on U.S. 176 near Cane Bay High School. Authorities charged Gelzer Wednesday with fatal hit-and-run. Gallardo was a senior at Cane Bay High School.

The third hit-and-run happened on April 16. Authorities say 35-year-old Monica Whaley struck Ernesto Mungaray on Old Back River Road. The coroner ruled Mungaray's death a suicide because they say he laid down in the roadway, but highway patrol still charged Whaley because she left the scene and did not return.

"We advise the public their responsibility when it comes to hit-and-run collisions. How can you know what you hit if you do not stop and identify what you strike," said Capt. Chris Williamson, commander of Troop 6 Commander.

By law, South Carolina drivers have to do three things if they are involved in an accident resulting in death or injury. They need to stop their car, render aid to the victim and notify authorities.

Highway patrol says in two of the three cases the drivers did not do that. The two suspects who were charged, Gelzer and Whaley, were booked at Hill-Finklea Detention Center in Berkeley County. They are scheduled to go through bond court Wednesday night at 7.

If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

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