MOUNT PLEASANT — An allegedly drunk driver who crashed into railing on the Shem Creek Bridge may have harmed other parts of the span as well, officials said.
The extent of the damage and how much it will cost to fix won’t be determined until next week, said James Law, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
“Until we do an in-depth inspection, we don’t know,” Law said.
The accident Sunday was the second time in less than a month that the driver, Destiny Bree Hetz, 20, of Ventura Place was arrested on an alcohol-related charge. She was charged with public drunkenness last month, police said.
The damage that the sport utility vehicle driven by Hetz caused to the southbound bridge railing is obvious, but experts need to take a closer look to determine if the accident moved support pillars or affected the bridge in other ways, Law said.
There is no reason for the traveling public to be concerned, he said.
“We had people look at the bridge. The bridge is safe,” Law said.
On Monday, a 20-foot-long section of eight-inch-thick concrete railing hung by bent rebar from the southbound bridge deck down to the pluff mud. Temporary steel guardrail was bolted to the bridge to fill the gap left by missing concrete railing. An extra layer of protection was provided by a wood barrier and orange highway cones.
The crash and resulting bridge damage happened in an area considered the town’s heart of tourism with its shrimp boats, restaurants and inns. The span is a linchpin in the town’s $4 million revitalization of Coleman Boulevard.
The wreck occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday. Police charged Hetz with driving under the influence. Her vehicle collided with a palm tree in the median of Coleman Boulevard, causing her to lose control of the SUV and slam into the railing, police said.
When her vehicle came to rest, the driver’s side tire was hanging completely off the bridge. Police said there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath, her speech was severely slurred and her eyes bloodshot.
She told the arresting officer she had one beer. She refused to complete a field sobriety test and refused a breath alcohol test at the police station.
On March 26, Hetz was charged with public drunkenness after a driver told police he saw a northbound vehicle on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge swerving in lanes and almost causing an accident. The man told police the woman who was driving the car was inside a West Coleman Boulevard gas station. When police arrived, Hetz flunked a field sobriety test and was arrested, police said.