BCSO: SCHP trooper not at fault in fatal collision - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

BCSO: Trooper not at fault in fatal collision


The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office has determined after an accident reconstruction and investigation that a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper was not at fault in a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.

Juan Vargas, 68, of Seabrook, was fatally struck just before 5 a.m. Wednesday as he was walking on US 21, according to the Beaufort County Coroner's Office.  

Trooper First Class D.W. Stephens was driving his patrol car southbound on US 21 when Vargas was struck, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

The accident reconstruction suggested that Vargas was walking approximately 2 ft into the active roadway at the time he was struck and that there were no signs that the SCHP left the roadway, according to the BCSO. There was also no street lighting where the crash occurred, and Vargas was wearing dark clothing at the time.

Vargas died as a result of blunt force trauma consistent with being struck by a vehicle, according to the preliminary autopsy results.

A witness said Stephens was driving at a "very reasonable speed not exceeding the posted speed limit," according to a BCSO news release. Stephens stopped suddenly in the roadway to assist Vargas and the witness stopped to help as well, according to the BCSO.

The investigation has wrapped up, but the case remains active pending toxicology test results, according to the BCSO.

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