A fiery wreck early Saturday on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge claimed one man's life, landed a restaurant assistant manager in jail on a felony DUI charge and shut down one of the busiest spans in the region for hours as authorities cleared debris and collected evidence.
The collision occurred at about 4 a.m. near the top of the bridge span when an Audi driven by a man police identified as Adam Joseph Brunelle rear-ended a Mustang.
The impact sent the Mustang spinning until it slammed into the concrete barrier guarding the bridge's pedestrian path and burst into flames, said Charles Francis, public information officer for the Charleston Police Department.
The Charleston County Coroner's office identified the driver of the Mustang as Quentin Miller, 32, of Mount Pleasant.
Police charged Brunelle, 32, of 340 Sandpiper Drive in Mount Pleasant, with felony driving under the influence. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and was held Saturday in the Cannon Detention Center. He was released on a $52,349 bond Sunday.
Brunelle is an assistant manager and sommelier at Husk, an acclaimed Charleston restaurant. "It's a terrible tragedy and we feel for everyone involved," said Dan Latimer, the restaurant's manager. He declined to comment further "out of respect for Adam and the family."
J. Chris Owens, 22, of Charleston, was on his way home from his job at Wild Wings in Mount Pleasant, traveling south on the bridge, when he saw the wreck on the opposite side. "I pulled over and jumped over the median," he said. "The red car, I think it was a Mustang, was on fire. There was nothing I could do."
Two other men had stopped on the bridge to render aid, Owens said.
The impact of the collision scattered wreckage across the bridge, forcing investigators to close the bridge in both directions. After the body was removed from the Mustang, the southbound lanes were reopened. Traffic wasn't fully restored until about 11:30 a.m.
Traffic backed up onto the Septima Clark Expressway and other downtown streets as motorists sought alternative routes. Francis said investigators needed this time to properly map what happened, collect evidence and remove the debris.