Hundreds of hit-and-runs statewide; Suspects could face 25 years in jail

Hundreds of hit-and-runs statewide, suspects could face 25 years in jail

Since December 8th, three drivers have been arrested for hit-and-runs.

In those three separate incidents, a 22-year-old was killed in West Ashley, a 14-year-old girl of Goose Creek was hit by a car and two bicyclists in downtown Charleston were knocked to the ground by an SUV.

According to the State Department of Public Safety there have been 269 hit-and-run accidents in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties since January.

Four of the hit-and-runs have been fatal and all four happened in Charleston County.Two of the four deadly hit-and-runs in Charleston County so far this year happened in West Ashley.

The most recent accident happened the morning of Sunday, December 8th on Highway 61. The sheriff's office says 22-year-old Forrest Carlton was killed by 18-year-old Daniel Shirley.

Another fatal West Ashley accident was also on Highway 61 but this time near the Avondale neighborhood. Records from the Department of Public Safety show it happened at the beginning of the year.

In April someone left the scene of an accident in North Charleston on Marginal Street.

Records also show at the beginning of June there was another deadly hit-and-run in downtown Charleston. It happened on Cherry Street near the Septima Clark Parkway.

"From our experience what we've seen is people will leave the scene because they don't have a driver's license or their license is suspended. "With the sheer number of drivers on the road and witnesses, someone's going to witness it and they're going to get reported," said Frank Cornely, an attorney with Frank J. Cornely Law Offices.

Cornely has handled many hit-and-run cases in our area. He says outside of panicking, he's heard a number of reasons why people leave the scene of an accident.

"Probably the most common is somebody was drinking or using drugs and driving," said Cornely.

Consequences for leaving the scene of an accident

The penalties someone could face for a hit-and-run depend on a number of factors.

Cornely says jail time for leaving the scene could range anywhere from 30 days to a year if the victim wasn't injured.

If the victim gets hurt, and it's an injury that can kill them, a person is looking at up to 10 years.

If someone leaves the scene of an accident and the victim dies, Cornely says that could be a felony charge carrying a minimum of 1 year and up to 25 years behind bars.

Cornely says most criminal offenses have what are called collateral consequences and some include taking away your driver's license, probation and travel restrictions.

All of that goes along with any charges given by the judge.

"The penalties are increased for the leaving the scene and logically because you want people to stay around because if you hit somebody and they got immediate medical attention, you might be able to save their life," said Cornely.

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