Beaufort officials are keeping a tight lid on their plans for a city fire engine that was badly damaged in February after it was allegedly stolen by a Sumter man and used to ram several vehicles and kill a pedestrian.
Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron declined Friday to say whether the city planned to repair or replace the damaged emergency vehicle, citing a decision last month by Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen barring the release of dashboard video from the truck or police cars that responded to the Feb. 24 incident.
Negron said Mullen's order applies not just to the video but all information regarding the fatal crash, including the department's plans for the damaged truck.
"Judge Mullen issued a permanent injunction prohibiting release of material generated by this incident," Negron said in an e-mail. "Her order binds all interested parties present at the hearing, including the city and the fire department. Our attorney has advised us that decisions on release of information in this case will be made by (14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone)."
In a press conference days after the crash, Negron said damage to the truck was estimated at $500,000 to $600,000, and that the department was in talks with its insurance company to determine whether the vehicle would be repaired or declared a total loss and replaced.
Mullen ordered that the video be kept under wraps until a jury is selected in the murder trial of Kalvin Hunt, the 26-year-old active-duty Marine accused of stealing the fire truck and striking and killing a pedestrian before crashing into a wooded area off Ribaut Road.
Hunt was transferred last month from the Beaufort County Detention Center to a psychiatric hospital in Columbia, according to his attorney, Corey Fleming of Beaufort.
Hunt had been in the detention center since waiving his right to a bond hearing on the murder charge.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.