Teens recover after crash; authorities investigate possible alcohol use

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Teens recover after crash; authorities investigate possible alcohol use

By CASSIE FOSS
cfoss@islandpacket.com
Published Tuesday, November 29, 2011   |  852 Words  |  

As two teens slowly recover from injuries from a Nov. 17 wreck on Hilton Head Island, state and local law enforcement agencies are investigating the possibility that the car's 17-year-old driver and her passengers were drinking alcohol before the crash.

Beaufort County sheriff's deputies and S.C. Law Enforcement Division officers launched an investigation Nov. 22 into possible alcohol violations, based on the S.C. Highway Patrol's investigation of the crash, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Tuesday.

At about 9:20 p.m. Nov. 17, Kendall Walton, a senior at Hilton Head Preparatory School, was driving a 2008 BMW with four passengers when the car ran off Indigo Run Drive and struck a tree, according to Beaufort County Coroner David Ott.

Kendall, who had been wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, he said.

Results from an autopsy performed at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston are part of an ongoing investigation into the crash by the Highway Patrol and will not be released, the coroner's office has said.

Two of the injured passengers -- Nate Riley, 18, a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School, and Maggie Deery, 17, a senior at the school -- are still being treated at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

The other injured passengers are Megan Shepherd, a Hilton Head High senior, and Jacob Schultz, a former Hilton Head Prep student who moved to Italy last year but was back on the island for a visit. Both have been released from the hospital and are expected to make full recoveries, sources close to the families say.

Tanner said Sheriff's Office and SLED are helping troopers find out what the teens did in the hours before the crash. He said state law requires law enforcement to investigate any vehicle crash that results in injury or death where alcohol is suspected to have been consumed by those under the age of 21.

"The only part of the investigation we're involved in is where the alcohol may have come from," he said. "We'll follow the chain of events that led up to the crash."

Cpl. Bob Beres, a Highway Patrol spokesman, said the investigation is ongoing.

On Tuesday, both Deery and Riley continued what are expected to be long recoveries.

Deery had a broken arm, elbow and pelvis, and injuries to her head, neck and spinal cord, according to information posted on her CaringBridge.org website. On Tuesday, the teen remained on a respirator in intensive care, but she was able to breathe on her own for several hours during the day, the website said.

A representative from the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta is expected today to evaluate whether Deery could be a candidate for the hospital's rehabilitative program.

Riley was transferred Monday to a rehabilitation center at the hospital complex, according to his father, Hilton Head town manager Steve Riley. Riley said he was not sure how long his son would undergo physical therapy.

He said dinners donated by area residents to the families have been "wonderful," but that relatives have not been home much to eat them. He said a high school club delivered meals to families at the hospital last week.

Hilton Head Island High School principal Amanda O'Nan said the school continues to help grieving students.

"We've been focusing on getting students through the process of talking about their emotions," she said.

Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.

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