COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Harvest Hope Food Bank employee is in the hospital after his van was hit by a car being chased by Lexington County Deputies.
The crash happened Monday morning around 11:30 on Charleston Highway right outside of the South Carolina Farmers Market. It also left two dead: the driver of the alleged stolen vehicle and his passenger.
Harvest Hope Interim CEO Keith Ferrell said their driver was on his way to pick up food at a business near the farmers market.
“I think the thought process was, is my driver okay? Is my teammate okay and is anybody else hurt?” Ferrell said.
The van helps support the food bank’s Kids Café program, which serves after-school meals to kids in need around the Midlands.
“We have two of these vans, they were actually donated by Publix about a year ago, they have increased our ability to feed more kids in more places, quicker, faster and more efficiently,” Ferrell said. “One van could do easily one thousand meals a day.”
Ferrell says they are already trying to fill the need from Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael and this will make keeping up with the need a little more difficult.
“Well, I can say it’s not in our budget. We’ve always had great donors. We have great industry support in this area and throughout South Carolina, so I’m sure we’ll bounce back,” Ferrell said.
He adds they are waiting on insurance and for the law enforcement investigation to see what the financial impact will hold. He, however, believes the van is totaled. He said they have a contingency plan in place to continue to supply meals to children in need.
A spokesperson for the Lexington Sheriff’s County Department says the pursuit started because the driver of a car did not stop for blue lights and sirens. The spokesperson says the car had been reported stolen Monday morning to the South Congaree Police Department. They say the car in the crash was the one that was reported stolen.
But due to the additional damage that occurred during the chase, some have wondered if the chase should have ended before anyone was hurt.
WIS requested the pursuit policy for Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. The policy in part details how when to terminate a pursuit:
“Situations in which the deputy knows or reasonably should know that the potential harm to persons and property arising from the pursuit outweighs the potential harm threatened by the escaping offender;”
It also reads:
“Situations in which the offender is not suspected of a life-threatening violation and the offender attempts to evade in a dangerously evasive manner. In such a situation the risk has become too great when compared to the potential benefit of immediate apprehension;”
The spokesperson for the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department would not speak to WIS on camera Tuesday because they said it would not be proper due to highway patrol’s investigation.
As for whether Ferrell thinks the chase should have been called off, he said he is worried about his employee in the hospital and is letting that investigation uncover all of those answers.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department says the driver of the car had a suspended driver’s license and was wanted by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. There is no word yet on any criminal history of the passenger.
Here is a look at the full pursuit policy for Lexington County Sheriff’s Department: