Crime & Public Safety

Driver in deadly Bluffton crash surrenders, held at detention center

The driver in a deadly crash Saturday that killed an 18-year-old woman on Bluffton Parkway has turned himself in to police.

Leonard Brown Jr., 27, turned himself in around 6 a.m. Thursday at the Beaufort County Detention Center, Bluffton Police Department spokeswoman Joy Nelson said.

Brown surrendered with his attorney and faces charges of felony DUI resulting in a death and driving under a suspended license, according to a police department news release.

He was also served with an open Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office warrant for a recent domestic violence incident, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Bob Bromage said.

Christine Barrett died at the scene of the one-vehicle crash around 2:45 a.m. Saturday. Brown was outside the vehicle and transported to the hospital, the Bluffton Police Department release said.

After doctors evaluated Brown, he checked himself out of the hospital and left before he was charged in the case.

“It was so early on in the investigation (when Brown left the hospital), we weren’t ready to charge him with anything,” Nelson said Thursday. “The hospital can’t hold someone against their will if they want to check out.”

While investigators have determined alcohol was a major factor in the crash, “there are parts of the investigation that are ongoing to see if there were other things — like speeding — that could have contributed to the accident,” she said.

Before her death, Christine Barrett graduated with honors from the S.C. National Guard Youth Challenge Academy. She then went to school to become a welder, according to Sandy Parker, her stepmother.

Funeral services for Christine Barrett are at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Church of the Cross on Calhoun Street in Bluffton. The funeral is open to the public, and the family has asked participants to wear bright colors as a way to celebrate Christine Barrett’s life. Her favorite color was pink.

To help with funeral expenses, a GoFundMe page has been set up by an apparent acquaintance.

Family members of Christine Barrett, the 18-year-old Bluffton native killed early Saturday in a single-vehicle crash on Bluffton Parkway, had not heard, as of Tuesday afternoon, from the driver in the wreck. They know the driver's identity, they s

Tabitha Johnson, Christine Barrett's older sister, has been coming to the site of Barrett's informal memorial on Bluffton Parkway "six, seven times a day" since the 18-year-old Bluffton resident lost her life in a car accident in the early morning

Related stories from Hilton Head Island Packet