A stolen car containing three guns, an open bottle of wine and other loot crashed during a chase with Hanahan police Wednesday night, killing two passengers and injuring two others, authorities said.
A 2011 Lexus containing four people wrecked about 10 p.m. on Foster Creek Road while the driver attempted to evade an officer at speeds over a 100 mph, police said.
Two passengers were ejected from the vehicle and killed when the Lexus ran off the road, struck trees and overturned, the S.C. Highway Patrol said.
The vehicle’s driver, Shaylynn Nichole Capers, 17, of Ballantine Drive, in Summerville, and a third passenger were transported to Medical University Hospital for treatment, Highway Patrol said. The driver was the only person in the vehicle who had on a seat belt.
The Berkeley County Coroner’s Office identified those killed as Patrick Graham, 19, and Martin Pinckney, 18, both of North Charleston.
Both passengers were ejected from the vehicle and died from head and body trauma, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.
Graham was pronounced dead at the scene, Salisbury said. Pinckney was transported and pronounced dead at Medical University Hospital, he said.
Hanahan police were patrolling the Tanner Plantation, where the incident occurred, due to several residential burglaries and car-break-ins reported in the area, Lt. Michael Fowler said.
An officer attempted to stop the gold Lexus ES350 after the driver flashed the car’s high-beams at him, a report stated. The vehicle’s license plate, which was not registered as a Lexus, was reported stolen out of Dorchester County, he said.
The vehicle initially slowed when an officer activated his blue lights, and the driver appeared to be pulling over in a residential neighborhood, a dashboard video shows. The passenger door popped open as if someone was about to jump out. Then, the driver hit the gas and sped off, the video shows.
The officer followed the car as it raced through the Ibis Glade subdivision, swerving at one point and knocking down several mail boxes. The driver hit a dead-end on one street and a rear passenger door popped open. But the driver quickly wheeled around on the cul-de-sac and guided the car out of the neighborhood and onto Foster Creek Road, the video shows.
The pursuit finally ended when the vehicle crashed in a wooded field at the end of Foster Creek Road.
Officer Travis Lanphere jumped from his cruiser and ran to the overturned car, yelling “I’m here to help.”
He found Graham on the ground with his head completely crushed, according to a police report. Pinckney lay nearby with multiple wounds and a large amount of blood, police said.
The video captures Lanphere attempting the calm and console Capers, the driver, as she cries, complains of pain and questions how her friends are doing. He told her to concentrate on herself and that she had a serious injury to her face.
When the officer asked her who was driving, she said it was her.
“That was you?” he asked, and questioned why she didn’t stop.
“Because they told me not to,” she said.
“Well, this is what happens when you don’t stop for the police,” he replied.
One of the vehicle’s occupants, Jimarie Travis Whitehead, 19, of Continental Court in Charleston was found in a nearby subdivision and transported to MUSC for injuries that appeared to be non-life threatening. Capers, who was also transported, is wanted out of Dorchester County for unspecified charges, he said.
A loaded Berretta 9mm pistol was found in the waistband of one of the killed men, Fowler said.
The pistol was reported stolen from a home in Tanner Plantation on April 3, he said.
A Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver and an open bottle of wine were also found inside the vehicle. That revolver was also reported stolen along with several other items found at the scene, including the vehicle, he said.
The chase is the second high-profile pursuit in Hanahan in less than a month’s time.
On March 11, a man running from a domestic-violence call led officers on a high-speed chase from Hanahan into downtown Charleston, tossing cocaine out a window and hitting a minivan as he fled, police said.
That same week, a 12-year-old led Goose Creek police on a car chase in a stolen mini-van from a shopping plaza to Interstate 26. And a North Charleston man was injured and arrested after he led police in that city on a chase on Interstate 26 that ended when he crashed his car into a light pole and it flipped, according to investigators.
Police pursuits have generated debate here and across the country due to their potential for ending in tragedy.
On average, one American dies each day as the result of a chase, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That death toll leads critics to question whether policies fly out the window in the adrenaline rush of a chase.
Last month, former Mount Pleasant Mayor Cheryl Woods Flowers waded into the debate with a letter to editor in The Post and Courier. She described how her daughter was terrified when the last Hanahan police chase raced right by her on the interstate as she was returning home.
Flowers said she has always been a supporter of law enforcement, but has come to believe in regard to high-speed chases that “it is way past time to discontinue this incredibly dangerous practice, particularly during rush hour on our congested highways.
“How many people will have to die, to be disabled, or to face the stress of having to replace their personal property?” she wrote.
Others, however, were quick to defend the practice. They maintained that curtailing chases would only encourage criminals because they would not fear being caught if they just hit the gas and drove away. Supporters of police pursuits say the issue should be handled on a chase-by-chase basis.
Police agencies have developed policies to prevent deaths, many of which call on law enforcers to determine whether the payoffs of a chase outweigh the risks. Policies on pursuit procedures vary, but they strike some common chords.
All call for officers to determine whether the pursuit itself creates a greater risk to the public than if the suspect were allowed to get away. All have restrictions against unmarked vehicles. All prohibit officers from driving as recklessly as the fleeing suspect.
Check back with postandcourier.com as more details become available.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the female occupant who is wanted by Dorchester County.