BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Beaufort County Coroner's Office has identified the pedestrian struck and killed by a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper earlier this week.
The victim was identified as 68-year-old Juan Vargas, of Seabrook. was walking on Hwy 21 when he was struck and killed by trooper just before 5 a.m. Wednesday.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, Trooper First Class D.W. Stephens was traveling Southbound on Highway 21 when his patrol vehicle struck Vargas. A witness reported Stephens was traveling at a "very reasonable speed not exceeding the posted speed limit."
Upon seeing the trooper come to a sudden stop in the roadway, the witness also stopped to assist the trooper who was attending to the stricken Vargas.
Reconstruction of the accident scene suggested that Vargas was walking approximately 2 feet in the immediate roadway at the time of the collision. It was noted that not only was there no street lighting present, but also that Vargas was wearing dark clothing. There were no signs of the trooper's vehicle leaving the roadway at any time. Based on the evidence and corroborating statements, it was determined that Trooper Stephens was not at fault for the collision.
Preliminary autopsy reports indicate Vargas died as a result of blunt force trauma consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The investigation has concluded, however, the case will remain active pending the receipt of the toxicology report.