Hilton Head crash leaves 1 teen dead, 4 injured

cfoss@islandpacket.comNovember 18, 2011 

A 17-year-old girl died and four other teens were hospitalized after the girl's car struck a tree Thursday night on Hilton Head Island, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Kendall Walton, a senior at Hilton Head Preparatory School, was driving a 2008 BMW when she ran off Indigo Run Drive at about 9:20 p.m., Beaufort County Deputy Coroner David Ott said. She was wearing a seat belt, Ott said.

Passenger Maggie Deery, a senior at Hilton Head High School, suffered head and neck injuries and underwent surgery Friday at Savannah Memorial University Medical Center, according to family friends. Her condition after the surgery was unknown Friday night.

Nate Riley, 18, a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School, was in "serious but stable condition" Friday at Savannah Memorial, according to his father, town manager Steve Riley.

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. Their conditions were unknown Friday.

Walton was driving north inside Indigo Run near Wedgefield Drive when she ran off the right side of Indigo Run Drive. Two teens were flown by helicopter to Savannah Memorial, and two others were taken by ambulance to Hilton Head Hospital. They were later transferred to Savannah Memorial, Ott said.

The incident remains under investigation, according to the Highway Patrol. Walton's body has been transferred to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy.

Joheida Fister, spokeswoman for the Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division, said Walton was dead when rescue crews arrived at the scene at about 9:30 p.m. Of the four passengers, two were able to get out on their own or with help, and the other two were removed by rescue workers after they were stabilized, Fister said.

At Hilton Head Preparatory School on Friday, Headmaster Anthony Kandel said the community was grieving Walton's death, and counselors were made available for students who needed support.

"Our goal is to support the Walton family in any way we can and support our students in this very difficult time," Kandel said.

Kandel said Walton was "very well-liked and extremely talented." He said she was an excellent singer and was interested in theater and performing arts and was a standout member of the school's choir.

At Hilton Head High, Principal Amanda O'Nan said some students who were friends of the crash victims opted not to come to school Friday, and grieving students were allowed to leave with their parents' permission.

A guidance center was set up in the school's media center where students who needed to talk about the incident could do so. The school also sent a social worker to Savannah Memorial to meet with the families, she said.

O'Nan said she planned to meet with island church officials and clergy at 5 p.m. Sunday at her office to discuss whether any additional aid for the families was needed, and she issued an open invitation to anyone who wanted to help.

"We are sending out thoughts and prayers to all of the families affected and trying to take care of the student body and others who were affected as best we can," O'Nan said. "... There are a lot of teens on the island who need to talk right now."

Thursday's crash is the third in about 10 years to claim the life of a teen on Indigo Run Drive.

Allison Clegg, 18, of Bluffton died in 2002 after a 1994 Mazda crashed into a tree near the entrance gate at Indigo Run.

In 2006, Chandler Clay Egnor, 16, died after he lost control of his 2000 Ford while negotiating a curve headed north, striking a tree on the right side of the road.

Reporter Tom Barton contributed to this report. Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.

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