Four SC college students die in head-on horror crash after SUV crossed median

BY VALERIE EDWARDS FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and ASSOCIATED PRESS

Four South Carolina college students have died after their SUV crossed a highway median and slammed into oncoming traffic Thursday evening.

South Carolina Highway Patrol said the horror crash happened along Interstate 77 around 5.45pm when the driver of the students’ vehicle lost control of their car.

The Richland County Coroner, Gary Watts, identified the students as 21-year-old Melvin Jackson Jr of Chester; 21-year-old Darrell Pendergrass of Society Hill; 18-year-old Keeron McElveen of Kingstree and 19-year-old Jamarius Bruce of Darlington.

Bruce was taken to Palmetto Richland Health Hospital, where he died from multiple traumas suffered in the wreck, Watts told The State.

A Claflin University spokesperson confirmed that all four students were sports management majors.

Jackson was driving the vehicle. It's unclear how he lost control of the SUV   Pendergrass was sitting in the front passenger seat. He and Jackson were both wearing seat belts

McElveen was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. He was ejected from the SUV and died on the scene   Bruce was taken to Palmetto Richland Health Hospital, where he later died

Freshman, Gernardo Cato, was also a passenger in the Ford and he remains at a local hospital. The extent of his injuries were unknown by Friday evening.

Officers said the students’ Ford Escape crossed the median, ran into the opposite lane and collided with a Toyota SUV.

Watts said Jackson was the driver and Pendergrass was in the front passenger seat. Both wore seat belts, he said.

McElveen and Bruce, who were in the rear seats and not wearing seat belts, were ejected from the vehicle, Watts told the newspaper.

He said all four of the young men died from trauma.

The individual in the Toyota was taken to the hospital, but the extent of their injuries was unknown.

The university held a noon prayer service on Friday as more than 900 students, faculty and staff attended to mourn the loss of the students who were called 'visionary leaders'. A student is pictured crying during the prayer service 

The university held a noon prayer service on Friday as more than 900 students, faculty and staff attended to mourn the loss of the students who were called ‘visionary leaders’. A student is pictured crying during the prayer service.

President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (pictured) spoke at the service. He said: 'This will be one of those defining moments for us, especially the student body'

President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (pictured) spoke at the service. He said: ‘This will be one of those defining moments for us, especially the student body’

Tisdale was followed by the Rev Todd Brown who told all of those who gathered that 'you will see your brothers again'. The chorus is pictured singing a selection during the service 

The university held a noon prayer service on Friday as more than 900 students, faculty and staff attended to mourn the loss of the students who were called ‘visionary leaders’.

President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale spoke at the service saying: ‘This will be one of those defining moments for us, especially the student body.

‘These students were a part of a core of students serving the community.

‘They would have been leaders in organizations, one of them being Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. They would have been involved in being involved. Being committed to giving back and serving,’ Tisdale said according to the State.

Tisdale was followed by the Rev Todd Brown who told all of those who gathered that ‘you will see your brothers again’.

The school is offering counseling and opening its chapel in Orangeburg for prayer and reflection.

Authorities are still investigating why the SUV crossed the median.

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