A 28-year-old man who fled the scene of an accident that severely injured a pedestrian Saturday evening near the Sea Pines Circle on Hilton Head Island didn’t get very far before deputies arrested him, according to a report from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
Taylor James Schumacher, of Penfield, New York, was charged with a felony — leaving the scene of an accident that involved great bodily injury, according to online court records.
Schumacher is accused of driving the 2016 Chevrolet pick-up truck that hit a pedestrian in the westbound lanes of Palmetto Bay Road between Arrow Road and Dunnagans Alley around 10:50 p.m. July 6, according to S.C. Highway Patrol spokesperson Lance Cpl. Matt Southern .
Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area at 10:55 p.m. when Highway Patrol agents asked for assistance in locating the vehicle and suspect described in the accident, according to the police report.
Before deputies arrived, police located the truck registered to Schumacher in the Walgreens parking lot across the street from the scene of the accident, but no one was in the vehicle.
Deputies searched the area for a white male wearing a pink shirt who was taller than 6-foot-2 and over 230 pounds, according to the report.
Within minutes, deputies found Schumacher near the Sun Trust Bank while searching the east side of the bank’s parking lot, nearly 500 feet from where the crash had happened a few minutes earlier. Deputies arrested him and turned him over to Highway Patrol, the lead investigating agency in the crash.
Schumacher passed a field sobriety test and officers found “no signs of impairment,” Southern said.
He later voluntarily submitted a breathalyzer exam at 1:18 a.m. and passed with a result of a 0.00 blood alcohol level, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division report submitted to the Island Packet by William Jenkins, Schumacher’s attorney.
Schumacher was booked in the Beaufort County Detention Center at 2:43 a.m. Sunday and released eight hours later on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
According to South Carolina law, “the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of a person immediately shall stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible.” The driver must remain at the scene and report the incident unless he or she needs to leave the scene temporarily to report the incident.
The penalties for a hit-and-run charge vary, depending on the level of injury. Schumacher faces 30 days to 10 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000. If Schumaker is convicted of a hit and run, the Department of Motor Vehicles can revoke his driver’s license.
The pedestrian, a 54-year-old from Ohio, was illegally crossing Palmetto Bay Road when he was struck.
He was airlifted to the Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah with severe injuries. Authorities have not released an update on the man’s condition since Sunday.
The Highway Patrol report mentioned that the area where the accident occurred was “dark with street lights.”
Pedestrian safety and lack of street lights on Hilton Head’s roads have been an ongoing concern for years. Last June, 11-year-old Charli Bobinchuck was killed while walking in a dark crosswalk on U.S. 278. Her father, Bryan Bobinchuck, has been advocating for safer crosswalks and roads on Hilton Head since her death.
From 2000 through 2016, about 71 percent of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities on Hilton Head occurred at night, the Island Packet previously reported. Hilton Head and Beaufort County both had higher rates of nighttime accidents resulting in fatalities than 66 percent statewide and 48 percent nationally, according to S.C. Department of Transportation Data.