Trooper not at fault in Wednesday's fatal collision on U.S. 21 in Seabrook

info@islandpacket.comJune 21, 2013 

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office announced Friday that a state trooper was not at fault when his car struck and killed a man walking early Wednesday on U.S. 21.

An accident reconstruction determined Juan Vargas, 68, of Seabrook was walking about 2 feet into the road, a Sheriff's Office news release said. He was wearing dark clothing, and there were no street lights to illuminate the area, the release said.

Trooper 1st Class D.W. Stephens hit Vargas just before 5 a.m. near Seabrook, while he was on duty and driving south in a marked S.C. Highway Patrol cruiser.

A witness in a vehicle behind Stephens said the trooper was not speeding, according to the release. When Stephens came to a sudden stop, the witness also stopped and assisted Stephens, who was tending to Vargas.

There were no signs that Stephens' vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, left the road, according to the release.

A spokeswoman with the S.C. Department of Public Safety said Stephens has remained on regular duty since the accident and that preliminary evidence indicated he could not have avoided hitting Vargas.

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