Crime & Public Safety

Bluffton Police: Georgia man struck, killed by car Sunday on US 278

A 30-year-old member of the U.S. Air Force based in Georgia was struck and killed by a motorist early Sunday in Bluffton while walking along U.S. 278, according to the Beaufort County Coroner's Office.

The accident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. near the intersection of U.S. 278 and Simmonsville Road.

A 2010 Dodge Charger traveling west on U.S. 278 struck a pedestrian walking in the street, according to the Bluffton Police Department. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim's relatives have been notified, but his name wasn't publicly disclosed Monday because he might have been on active duty, Coroner Ed Allen said. Department of Defense policy prohibits releasing the names of deceased service members until 24 hours after next of kin has been notified.

An autopsy was scheduled for today at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, but the death probably will be ruled an accident, caused by multiple traumas, Allen said.

The driver was not at fault and no charges are expected, Bluffton police Lt. Joe Babkiewicz said. Investigators, however, are still trying to determine where the man was coming from, where he was headed and whether he might have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Babkiewicz said the man wore dark clothing and was walking in the rain into oncoming traffic, which would have made it difficult for the driver of the Charger to see him.

"It rained most of the morning -- sometimes with heavy downpour," Babkiewicz said. "It's hard to react when someone is walking down the road toward the vehicle, especially when they are wearing dark clothing and it is raining."

He said the driver had headlights on and stopped to call 911.

It is the second person in a week to be hit by a car in Bluffton. Thomascenna Grant was taken to Hilton Head Hospital with injuries after being hit by a car March 18 at the intersection of May River and Goethe roads. Grant was hit while crossing Goethe Road by a sport utility vehicle turning left from the eastbound lane of May River Road, according to police.

The driver of the SUV was issued a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

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