10 newly released inmates, 3 others taken to hospitals after crash

achristnovich@beaufortgazette.comNovember 30, 2012 

Ten men just released from prison wound up at hospitals early Friday after the van they were in was hit by a Beaufort-Jasper Head Start bus on Trask Parkway in Sheldon.

One of the former inmates was flown by helicopter to a Savannah hospital.

No children were in the Head Start bus. Its driver -- 33-year-old Tina Hamilton of Pineland -- will be cited with failure to yield, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. She and a bus monitor and the driver of the S.C. Corrections Department van were sent to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for observation, as were the other nine inmates.

The van from Ridgeland Correctional Institution was going to a bus station after its occupants had been freed. It was headed north on Trask Parkway at 6:30 a.m. when the Head Start bus pulled out of an El Cheapo gas station. The van crashed into the bus, and the bus overturned, according to the patrol.

One inmate was flown to Memorial University Medical Center with a head injury, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsom. He was in stable condition Friday afternoon, Newsom said.

Hamilton's condition and the condition of the bus monitor were not available late Friday.

The prison van's driver, Jeremiah Doe, 26, of Ridgeland, had minor injuries, the patrol said.

Most of the former inmates did not appear to need medical attention, but Newsom said they went to the hospital for observation as part of department protocol.

"There's one former inmate they were going to admit and keep overnight," Newsom said. The others were to have been released Friday.

Traffic was blocked in both directions for about two and half hours, according to Senior Trooper Bridget Wyant.

Attempts Friday to reach Head Start spokesman Duane Frederick for information about Hamilton were unsuccessful.

The Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash. The Sheldon Fire District also responded.

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