Of the six individuals transported to area hospitals after a horrific Saturday night crash in Ridgeland involving a pickup truck and a hayride, five were teenagers, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol on Sunday night.
The incident at Tarboro Road and Malphrus Road is still under investigation by the Highway Patrol, Lance Cpl. David Jones said around 6:30 p.m. Sunday. No criminal charges have yet been filed and no traffic tickets have been issued at this point in connection with the crash.
A 21-year-old male in critical condition was taken to the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah along with a 16-year-old male and a 14-year-old male, Jones said. Two of them were airlifted and the third was transported by ambulance.
Three other teens, a 15-year-old, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, were taken to Coastal Carolina by ambulance. Their genders were not available at the time.
Ridgeland Fire Chief Brad Bonds said that two of the three victims transported to Savannah were in stable condition by Sunday morning, while the third was still listed as critical.
Up to 10 other people were treated for injuries at the scene but not transported to a hospital, Bonds said.
Thomas Heyward Academy teacher Alicia Crosby led a community donation collection on Sunday for victims and their families, she said.
By Sunday night, Crosby said she thought they had raised over $1,000 after a number of families and community members came by the Jasper’s Porch parking lot to drop off donations and offer to help organize meal trains and whatever else their neighbors needed.
“It could have been anyone’s family,” she said, adding that she was thankful there were no fatalities in the crash. “God had his angels watching out. It could have been devastating.”
Donations can still be dropped off at the Thomas Heyward Academy front office Monday morning, and an account for the victims’ families is being set up at the South State Bank in Ridgeland, Crosby said.
The incident occurred near the Great Swamp Baptist Church in Ridgeland, and the church’s pastor, Ralph Lee, said both adults and children were on the hayride.
By Sunday night, the ongoing Highway Patrol investigation had a list of 13 people who were riding the hayride, while an additional person was operating the tractor that was pulling the hayride trailer.
The hayride was struck from behind by the pickup truck, but no further details were available by Sunday night on the circumstances surrounding the crash. Jones also said that alcohol played no part in the collision. Additional details are being ascertained as the investigation continues.
Mayor Joey Malphrus offered praise to first responders and sympathy for the victims Sunday morning.
“It was a terrible tragedy. I want to thank Ridgeland Fire Chief Brad Bonds and all of our first responders for their professional work. They were quickly on the scene and prevented a much worse outcome,” said Malphrus in a statement on Sunday morning. “I am friends with many of the victims. I hope to visit with them and their families later today at the hospital.”
Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Ridgeland Fire Department were also on the scene to assist. Calls to the Sheriff’s Office for updates were referred to the Highway Patrol.