A Beaufort County paramedic driving the SUV that slammed into a pickup truck carrying a family of six last month, killing a 42-year-old mother, had been on duty 22 hours, a county official said Wednesday.
The paramedic was driving a 2018 Chevrolet Suburban EMS supervisor’s vehicle when it crashed into the rear of a Dodge pickup truck stopped at a traffic light at Trask Parkway and Bruce K. Smalls Drive just before 6 a.m. on Nov. 17, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. Stacey Dyer, an Ohio native and Port Royal resident, was a passenger in the pickup truck carrying the family out of town for Thanksgiving and died two days after the crash.
The EMS official was responding to a call when the crash occurred and had been on duty since 8 a.m. the previous day, county attorney Tom Keaveny said Wednesday. Such shifts can be typical for paramedics and include time to rest when not responding to calls.
A Highway Patrol team is still investigating the crash, and no findings have been released, an agency spokesman said Tuesday. No charges have been filed related to the crash.
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An attorney for the Dyer family is conducting a separate investigation while awaiting the agency’s findings in preparation for a lawsuit, said Tabor Vaux, the Bluffton attorney who has been retained by the family. Vaux is also a County Council member whose term expires this month.
Keaveny confirmed the county had been notified of a possible lawsuit.
Vaux declined to comment on the firm’s investigation or on injuries to other family members.
“Obviously it’s turned their lives upside down,” he said. “They are dealing with the tragedy the best they can and trying to cope with the loss of Stacey, taking it hour by hour, day by day.”
Dyer’s 8-year-old daughter, Sophia, was flown to Savannah and admitted to intensive care but returned home last week, a family friend said.
Dyer’s 6-year-old son, Dax, was unhurt in the crash, and her 18-year-old daughter, Lexi, was off crutches last week after her leg was injured in the crash, Dyer’s friend, Latesha McComas, said last week.
Keaveny said the EMS driver had not returned to work and declined to provide his condition, citing federal patient privacy laws.
The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet are not identifying the driver of the EMS vehicle because he has not been charged in the crash or named in a court filing.
The response from Keaveny on Wednesday is the first information provided by the county since the crash. Four phone calls and an email sent to county EMS director Donna Ownby seeking comment since the crash have not been returned.
More than $19,000 has been raised for the family in an online fundraiser.
A funeral service for Dyer was held Saturday. During a Facebook campaign during the week of Thanksgiving, community members reported acts of kindness done in her memory.