4th Claflin Student Dies in I-77 Crash; Victims All Identified

The four were riding along I-77 when the driver lost control of the car.

Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) - A fourth Claflin University student has died from injuries sustained in a collision on Interstate 77 Thursday.

Friday afternoon, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the people who were killed in the collision as the following:

Melvin Lonell Jackson Jr., age 21  - Jackson was from Chester , SC, and was the restrained driver of the vehicle.  The coroner says an autopsy indicated that Mr. Jackson died from multiple trauma to his body.

Darrell Renard Pendergrass, age 21  - Pendergrass was from Society Hill, SC, was a restrained front seat passenger in the vehicle.  An autopsy indicated that Mr. Pendergrass died from multiple trauma to his body.

Keeron Q. McElveen,  age 18, - McElveen was from Kingstree, SC, was an unrestrained rear seat passenger and was ejected from the vehicle.  An autopsy indicated that Mr. McElveen died from multiple trauma to his body.

Jamarius Kel'Shawn Bruce, 19, -  Bruce was from Darlington, SC. He was an unrestrained rear seat passenger and also was ejected from the vehicle.  He was transported by Richland County EMS to Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital where was taken immediately into surgery, but died later in the evening. An autopsy indicated that Mr. Bruce died from multiple trauma to his body.

A fifth student, Gernardo Cato, a freshman from Goose Creek, remains in the hospital.

"We are hurting and are saddened to hear about the untimely death of four of our students. I call upon the Claflin family to draw closer together and remain strong as we try to comprehend the loss of these members of our Claflin family,” said President Henry N. Tisdale. “Our prayers are also with the families and friends who are connected with the accident victims and with the student who is still in the hospital.”

The school held a prayer service around midday for the students. At that event, Tisdale encouraged students to take advantage of each day because tomorrow is not promised. 

The South Carolina Highway Patrol says the students' vehicle crossed the center median near the Killian Road exit, colliding head-on with another car. The driver of that other vehicle was also hospitalized.

 


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