Passenger killed in early Friday crash on Old Palmetto Bluff Road

cconley@islandpacket.comJuly 5, 2013 

One person was killed early Friday from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle accident on Old Palmetto Bluff Road in Bluffton, police said.

Makail Smith, 21, of Hardeeville, was riding in a two-door Honda Civic that left the roadway, struck a tree and overturned in a drainage ditch, Bluffton police said in a news release. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, Mason Deloach, 19, of Hardeeville, was transported by helicopter to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah with non-life-threatening injuries, the release said. Deloach was wearing a seatbelt.

There were no other passengers in the vehicle.

An autopsy performed Friday at Medical University of South Carolina indicated Smith died of blunt head trauma, according to deputy Beaufort County coroner Timothy Wolf. It's not clear if Smith was wearing a seat belt.

"What I got from first responders is that he was in the vehicle and he was taken from the vehicle by the driver," Wolf said.

Police say the vehicle was traveling northbound on Old Palmetto Bluff Road at about 12:05 a.m. when the accident occurred. The car left the roadway roughly a quarter mile from the S.C. 46 intersection, outside the gates to the Palmetto Bluff development.

That section of the private road has posts with reflective markers but no streetlights. Police say the accident is under investigation.

Skid marks at the accident scene suggest the driver lost control of the vehicle before leaving the roadway and striking the tree. Broken glass, plastic and metal were scattered throughout the accident scene Friday morning.

Orange spray paint tracked the vehicle's path as it left the road, careened into the tree and came to rest in the ditch, which is no more than five feet across.

Two men's flip flops floated in the brackish stream Friday morning, along with what appeared to be a white T-shirt. Snack wrappers, paper cups and other detritus that predated the crash also littered the area.

Charles Huggins, director of security for Palmetto Bluff, said one of his officers responded to the accident and another person at the security gate notified Bluffton police.

For now, he says, it appears the two men had no connection or relationship to Palmetto Bluff.

It's not clear if charges are possible against the driver or if speed or alcohol were factors in the accident.

Bluffton police Capt. Angela Tanner did not respond Friday to phone or email inquiries.

A department spokesman also did not return multiple phone calls.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.

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