Crime & Public Safety

Georgia woman charged with felony DUI after Jasper County crash kills 1 person, officials say

One person is dead, one is hospitalized, and another one is in jail after a one-vehicle crash early Saturday morning in Jasper County, officials say.

The collision occurred just after 4 a.m. on Bellinger Hill Road in Hardeeville, according to S.C. Highway Patrol spokesperson Lance Cpl. Matt Southern. The street is less than 10 miles away from the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.

Tessa Marie Openlander, 25, of Richmond Hill, Georgia, was charged with felony DUI resulting in death after the collision, Southern said.

Openlander — who was not wearing a seat belt — was allegedly driving herself and two other people eastbound on Bellinger Hill Road when she drove off the right side of the roadway, Southern said. He said she then overcorrected, drove off the left side of the roadway and struck an embankment, which caused the rear passenger, who was also not wearing a seatbelt, to be ejected.

The man ejected from the car died at the scene as a result of his injuries, Southern said.

Openlander was taken to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah by EMS before she was booked into the Chatham County Detention Center, Southern said. She will be extradited back to South Carolina.

The right front passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, was taken to Coastal Carolina Hospital by EMS with injuries then later transferred to Memorial Health University Medical Center, Southern said.

Information about the man who died and his identity will be released after the next of kin is notified, Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls said Saturday afternoon.

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Lana Ferguson has reported on a smorgasbord of news for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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