Tyler Evans Terry, 23, and Amberly McKenzie Hunnicutt, 27, both of Hartsville, were killed in a crash on West Old Camden Road around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee, after a sheriff's deputy tried to pull them over.
Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd said Deputy Richie Stevens was trying to pull the Ford Taurus over for speeding. We're told Terry was driving.
Byrd said Terry wouldn't stop, went around a curve. The car slammed into a guardrail at Black Creek Bridge and then rolled over and landed in the middle of the highway.
Byrd said Deputy Stevens couldn't stop in time and hit the car. Both Terry and Hunnicutt were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Coroner Hardee.
Sheriff Byrd said Deputy Stevens clocked Terry going 77 mph in a 45 mph speed zone.
Deputy Stevens had a ride along in his vehicle. They were both taken to the hospital as a precaution and then released.
An incident report says the ride along is Charles Boan.
Byrd told NewsChannel 15 Boan is a longtime volunteer with the sheriff's office, was cleared to ride with Stevens, and is covered by the county's insurance.
"It's really kind of up to the shift sergeant or shift lieutenant whether officers can have a ride along," Byrd explained. "They have to approve it through the shift lieutenant before they get in the car. He being a fully integrated part of our structure as a volunteer, even though he was a volunteer, he's on our workers comp insurance and things, just like an employee."
Highway Patrol's MAIT team is investigating the wreck. They're hoping the patrol car's dash cam video will reveal more information.
We've requested a copy of the dash cam video as well as the audio from 911 calls about the accident.
Byrd said he doesn't have a specific policy on when a deputy should continue to pursue or back off of a chase, but there are a number of factors to take into consideration.
"There's not a straight line. This speed is to fast or anything. When you, if you make a rule like that . Then you get into how fast is too fast on the interstate? How fast is too fast on a four lane highway? How fast is too fast on a back road? Then you start getting into the officer's ability to make a judgement at the time given the circumstances that exist. You have to remember the officers have to make those decision in a split second. You got to remember at 2:30 in the morning, that officer has literally seconds to make that decision. We live with the results of it. We don't want to put policies in place that are complicated."
Sheriff Byrd added that Terry is well-known to the sheriff's office. He says a deputy pulled Terry over a week ago.