Teen driver killed in wreck on Hilton Head bought alcohol found in car

astice@islandpacket.comDecember 16, 2011 

Kendall Walton, a student at Hilton Head Prep, died after her car hit a tree.

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN LEE

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A 17-year-old Hilton Head Island girl killed in a car crash that seriously injured four other teens purchased alcohol found at the scene of the wreck with an ID that did not belong to her, a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigation has concluded.

The S.C. Highway Patrol found an open bottle of liquor and a driver's license belonging to a woman over age 21 at the scene of the single-vehicle collision where Kendall Walton, 17, died of her injuries, according to a Sheriff's Office report released Friday.

Walton, a Hilton Head Preparatory School senior, had been driving a 2008 BMW when the car ran off Indigo Run Drive and struck a tree on Nov. 17, Beaufort County Coroner David Ott has said.

Four other teens suffered varying degrees of injuries in the crash, all requiring medical attention. One of the passengers remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

State law requires police to investigate vehicle crashes that result in injury or death when alcohol is suspected to have been consumed by those under the age of 21.

The Sheriff's Office investigation to find the source of the alcohol concluded that Walton purchased it at a Hilton Head Island liquor store, Island Liquors, with a driver's license she obtained through unknown means.

Video surveillance footage from the store shows Walton buying alcohol there on Nov. 12, Nov. 14 and Nov. 16. She was carded on the first two occasions but not the third because the employee was familiar with her, according to the report.

The report states that the couple who own the liquor store cooperated with investigators. It also states that a friend of Walton's who had previously seen the driver's license said the photo on it resembled Walton.

The driver's license belonged to a Bluffton woman who told investigators she did not know Walton and had no idea how her license ended up in the girl's possession. The woman said she had lost the license about a year and a half earlier.

No charges will be filed by the Sheriff's Office, the release said. The accident is still under investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol, said Cpl. Bob Beres, patrol spokesman. It is unclear whether charges could result from the patrol's investigation.

Three of the teens who were passengers in Walton's car at the time of the crash are recovering.

Nate Riley, 18, a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School, was released from Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah in early December. He is continuing his recovery, said his father, Hilton Head town manager Steve Riley, who declined to comment on the Sheriff's Office investigation.

Megan Shepherd, a Hilton Head High senior, and Jacob Schultz, a former Hilton Head Prep student who had recently returned to the island from an extended trip to Italy, were released from the hospital earlier.

Meanwhile, Maggie Deery, 17, a senior at Hilton Head High, is undergoing rehabilitation for spinal-cord and brain injuries at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, according to her CaringBridge.org website.

Investigators interviewed friends of those involved in the crash, who indicated Walton had been drinking during the afternoon before the accident, which occurred at about 9:20 p.m.

Schultz told investigators that Walton had brought alcohol to his house that afternoon, where other teens were gathered, according to the report.

Schultz said Walton then drove him and Riley around in the BMW while all three were taking shots from the bottle of liquor, according to the report. Walton dropped them off at about 7:30 p.m. and returned to pick them up again at about 9 p.m. with Deery and Shepherd in the car, according to the report.

The BMW smashed into the tree about 20 minutes later after the teens got into the car. Schultz told investigators "he remembers little else of the night other than he thought that Kendall was driving fast," according to the report.

Attempts Friday to reach Schultz' mother, Lisa Bragg, were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach Walton's father, Ken Walton, also were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

Related content

  1. Teens who survived fatal wreck continue recovery, Dec. 1, 2011
  2. Teens recover after crash; authorities investigate possible alcohol use, Dec. 29, 2011
  3. Hilton Head Prep student killed in crash mourned, other injured teens honored at prayer vigil, Nov. 21, 2011

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