Crime

Coastal Carolina University student dies after being struck by vehicle near Conway campus, driver charged

A collision on S.C. 544 near Coastal Carolina University early Friday killed a freshman student, landed one man in police custody, and for some CCU students, illustrated the danger in crossing the busy highway that separates several students’ apartments from the school’s campus.

Elizabeth Paola Gorshack, 18, a freshman from Warwick, N.Y., was killed in the crash, according to Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler, apparently while trying to cross the road. Preliminary autopsy results Friday showed that she died from head trauma.

Gorshack was struck by a 2006 Toyota that was traveling west on S.C. 544 near Ace University Bookstore at 12:18 a.m. Friday, said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones. The driver of the Toyota, a 19-year-old Julian Delvasto, also from New York, is charged with reckless homicide, said Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins of the S.C. Highway Patrol. Police said Delvasto , left the scene, but was found a short time later, uninjured. He is being held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents and family, to friends, fellow students and faculty who are learning today about the loss of Elizabeth Gorshack,” CCU President David DeCenzo said. “We are shaken by this tragedy, and are working to provide counseling and support for all who are affected.”

Some CCU students were shocked and saddened by Gorshack’s death, but one said he wasn’t surprised.

“I knew it was going to happen sometime this year,” said Billy Berg, a sophomore from North Myrtle Beach.

In fact, he said he was just talking with a friend about his certainty, and he won’t be surprised if there’s another similar fatality during the school year.

Berg said that because parking is at a premium on campus many of the students who live in the hundreds of apartments across 544 leave their cars at home and walk to the campus. He said that often the students will wait until the last moment to head to class and wind up dashing across the busy highway with a 45 mph speed limit.

Three large apartment complexes are across the highway from campus within a relatively short distance, with the 544 entrance to the campus about in the center. There is a light at the intersection where people can cross the road, but even on Friday afternoon, one student was crossing at another point.

Berg said he believes a pedestrian overpass is needed. Others said the area needs a crosswalk with a traffic light that could be controlled by people wanting to cross.

Candace Kelly of Leland, N.C., a graduate student, said her heart goes out to Gorshack’s family, as well as the driver of the car that hit her.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like for him,” she said.

Kelly said she was an undergraduate at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina and it also had a busy road that students crossed frequently. She said she saw numerous people get hit by vehicles. Finally, she said a solid wall was put up in the median so no one could cross the road except at designated spots.

Jennifer Novitsky, a junior from Massachsuetts, said she was shocked by the tragedy.

“At the same time,” she said, “I was hoping when they built the new apartments that there would be a crosswalk there,.”

Jerel Farris, a senior from Spartanburg, said he not only is sorry for Gorshack and her family, but also for Gorshack’s friends and acquaintances at CCU. Gorshack didn’t really get to experience college, he said, and her friends’ experience will always be punctuated with her death.

“I feel like their whole memory of college will be affected,” Farris aid.

The S.C. Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is investigating the crash.

Diane Munro, superintendent with the Florida Union Free School District, said Gorshack had been a student there, but declined comment any further about the teen. “Out of respect for the needs of the family we are not going to discuss this matter publicly at this time,” Munro said.

Gorshack had recently graduated from S.S. Seward Institute, where she had excelled as a softball player for the school.

According to a check with the State Law Enforcement Division, the driver has no prior criminal record in South Carolina.

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