CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County remained the top location for crashes involving emergency vehicles in South Carolina in 2019, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
In 2018, SCDPS numbers showed Charleston County emergency responders were involved in 305 wrecks, 100 more than the next closest county. That number did decline last year to 265 crashes, excluding the incidents that happened during the month of December. However, Charleston County still lead the state in 2019 with more than 80 incidents compared to the next-closest county.
The state highway patrol is tasked with investigating wrecks involving law enforcement, EMS, or fire fighting vehicles.
The data showed collisions spanning the years 2018 and 2019 resulted in deaths and injuries. Across the state, ten people were killed and 737 were hurt in traffic collisions involving emergency vehicles in 2018. Meanwhile, 2019 maintained a similar pace with 8 deaths and 649 injuries.
The statistics from the SC Dept. of Public Safety do not differentiate by agency or type of emergency vehicle. The data also does not specify an exact date or details about each incident. However, several incidents did make headlines over the last two years, including a crash involving a Charleston County deputy on Folly Road that resulted in the death of a woman.
According to the Charleston Co. Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened Nov. 18, 2018, just before 10 p.m. The deputy was responding to assist another deputy involved in a foot pursuit. However, the deputy’s unmarked Sheriff’s Office vehicle car collided with another vehicle near the 1000 block of Folly Road, CCSO spokesman Roger Antonio said.
The woman turned in front of the deputy, Antonio said.
The deputy and a State Constable riding in the front seat were also taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
More recently, a Charleston County deputy suffered serious injuries following a crash in Sept. 2019.
Deputy Stephanie Hood was responding to an active call of a suicide attempt when her cruiser left the roadway and struck a tree, according to Charleston County Sheriff’s Capt. Roger Antonio.
The crash happened in the 700 block of Riverland Drive.
Hood was trapped inside the vehicle and emergency fire crews extricated her with the Jaws of Life, he said.
Other incidents were more minor, including a crash involving a Charleston Co. deputy on I-26 in July 2019.
South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Matt Southern said the deputy was in a marked Ford Explorer and was rear ended by a Mercury four-door at approximately 5:45 a.m.
Neither the deputy nor the other driver were injured in the crash.
Overall, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office deputies were involved in 97 of the 265 crashes investigated by SCHWY in 2019. Deputies were found to be at fault in 41 of those cases, while deputies were not at fault in 56.
Antonio said the Charleston Co. Sheriff’s Office is now working to improve its driver training by providing a new high stress, emergency response course for its deputies this year.
“If a deputy, especially responding to a call, and especially if it’s an emergency call, if he collides, it’s a lose-lose situation. There’s no win to that," Antonio said. “It is our goal that the deputies are trained properly and responsibly driving these vehicles because they are just as important as using a firearm or using a weapon that we have. They can be just as dangerous, just as deadly.”