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A 26-year-old active-duty Marine from Sumter, who authorities say stole a Port Royal firetruck, struck six vehicles and killed a pedestrian, has been charged with murder.
Kalvin Hunt is accused of striking and killing 28-year-old Justin Miller of Port Royal while he walked with his brother along Ribaut Road on Friday.
State troopers served Hunt with a murder warrant Tuesday morning in his room at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said S.C. Highway Patrol spokesman Bob Beres during a news conference Tuesday in Beaufort.
Hunt is recovering at MUSC from injuries sustained when he crashed the stolen fire engine Friday into a wooded area, moments after Miller was struck and killed.
Beres said patrol investigators consulted 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone before charging Hunt in connection with Miller's death.
"He killed a pedestrian," Beres said. "When you willfully point your vehicle at someone and run them over with the intent of killing them, that's murder."
Murder is rarely charged in vehicular death cases because it can be difficult to prove the suspect acted with malice, Stone said.
"But in some cases, like this one, the suspect's actions can be considered so extremely reckless that they rise to the level of malice," Stone said. "That's why we charged what we did."
Once released from the hospital, where he is under a state trooper's supervision, Hunt must appear in General Sessions court for a bond hearing on the murder charge, Stone said.
Stone said a date for that hearing has not been set. Beres said he does not know when Hunt will be released from MUSC.
A team of crash-scene investigators will be back in Beaufort today to review the fatal collision and determine what additional charges Hunt should face, Beres said.
Beres said Hunt struck six vehicles -- including five at the intersection of Ribaut Road and Lady's Island Drive -- before striking Miller and crashing into a tree. He added that five people involved in those wrecks were hospitalized. Updates on their conditions were unavailable Tuesday.
It's not clear if Hunt was under the influence of illegal drugs or what his general mental state was when he stole the firetruck while firefighters responded to a medical call at Laurel Hill apartments.
"That's part of our investigation: to find out if he was on anything at the time," Beres said. "But it's too early to tell right now."
Authorities said Hunt stole the firetruck after fleeing from Naval Hospital Beaufort, where he had been taken earlier that day by a Beaufort County Veterans Affairs officer.
Hunt ran when the VA officer took him outside for a moment, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Investigators have yet to determine how fast Hunt was traveling when he barreled through the busy intersection or when the firetruck hit Miller, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
MILITARY RECORD RELEASED
Navy officials also released information about Hunt's military record Tuesday.
Hunt enlisted in August 2003 and completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in September 2004, said James Cullen, spokesman for Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn.
Hunt worked as an F-18 jet mechanic, and his military career included stops in San Diego; Pensacola, Fla.; and Jacksonville, N.C., Cullen said.
He was never stationed in Beaufort, according to Navy records.
In August, Hunt was placed on appellate leave, which a Corps website defined as "authorized absence of a service member ... pending completion of the appellate review of their court-martial conviction where a dismissal or unsuspended dishonorable or bad conduct discharge was adjudged."
Navy officials would say only that Hunt had once earned the rank of corporal but, as of April, has been serving as a private.
'IT'S BEEN A ROLLER COASTER'
Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said department officials still are assessing the emotional toll of Friday's crash.
Negron said firefighters, including those who responded to the call at Laurel Hill apartments, met with chaplains and mental health professionals Friday night and Monday morning.
"It's been a roller coaster, emotionally," Negron said. "You never go to a call and come back without your (firetruck). ... You could never imagine that any individual would use an emergency vehicle or a firetruck as a tool to commit a crime."
The stolen vehicle is out of commission and likely will cost more than $600,000 to replace, the department has said.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.