Decision expected this week in U.S. 501 crash that killed 4-year-old Myrtle Beach girl

troot@thesunnews.comNovember 13, 2012 

A decision about charges being filed in a crash that killed a 4-year-old Myrtle Beach area girl should be made by the end of the week, according to 15th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

The final report from the S.C. Highway Patrol's Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team was released to The Sun News on Tuesday and showed that the driver of a commercial tractor-trailer was traveling too fast for conditions and struck the rear of a vehicle that the girl was riding in.

Cell phone use by the Florida man driving the tractor-trailer also contributed to the crash, according to the report.

Richardson said prosecutors are reviewing evidence in the crash and expect to make a decision about the investigation by the end of the week.

Four-year-old Jada Bennett died from a head injury she suffered in the crash that occurred about 1 p.m. March 31 on U.S. 501 in front of Tanger Outlets, authorities said. Jada was riding with her family in a sport utility vehicle when it was struck in the rear by the tractor-trailer and pushed into a minivan in front of it.

The crash happened in a northbound lane of U.S. 501 when the tractor-trailer went through the intersection of U.S. 501 and Waccamaw Pines Drive at the outlet stores. The report showed the minivan and the SUV Bennett was riding in slowed for traffic ahead of them when the crash occurred.

Several people were hurt in the crash and taken to local hospitals and the road was closed for several hours that day.

Troopers with the accident investigation team did not find any mechanical failures with the vehicles and reconstructed the scene for their investigation using forensic mapping, audio and video recordings and photographs.

The report showed the tractor-trailer was traveling 50 miles per hour in the center lane of U.S. 501, which was five miles below the speed limit. Drivers in the SUV and the minivan were going 40 mph.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723.

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