Hilton Head man dies in US 278 wreck

rlurye@islandpacket.comJanuary 14, 2014 

A two-car wreck Tuesday morning on U.S. 278 killed a Hilton Head Island man, according to Deputy Coroner David Ott.

Donald Billet, 84, was killed after his 2000 Lexus was involved in a crash near St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in greater Bluffton, Ott said. A cause of death was not available Tuesday; an autopsy was planned at the Medical University of South Carolina, according to Ott.

Billet, who was wearing a seat belt, reportedly hit a 2005 Dodge shortly before 9:45 a.m., according to Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly of the S.C. Highway Patrol. He was removed from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Dodge, 62-year-old Dale Barre of Bluffton, was taken by ambulance to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Wimberly said. She did not know the extent of his injuries or whether he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Barre's condition was not available from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

The accident blocked westbound traffic until officers were able to open a lane shortly after 11 a.m., according to Randy Hunter of the Bluffton Township Fire District.

While the cause of the accident remains under investigation by the Highway Patrol, Wimberly said the crash was not a result of a driver attempting to turn right into the church entrance. There is no deceleration lane leading up to that entrance, located about 300 yards from the intersection of U.S. 278 and Buckwalter Parkway.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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