Victims identified in wreck involving ambulance with lights, sir - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Victims identified in wreck involving ambulance with lights, sirens on

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Lea Kraemer (L) and Sarah Doelker Lea Kraemer (L) and Sarah Doelker

By Logan Smith - bio | email

NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - Two Presbyterian College students from Germany were killed and five people were injured Friday night in Newberry County when a car hit an ambulance that was on its way to an emergency.

The wreck happened around 9:20pm Friday on U.S. 76 in Newberry County, about 7.5 miles west of Newberry, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Troopers say a 2008 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Caroline Smith, 20, of Pawley's Island was traveling west on the highway when an ambulance approached them from the rear with its sirens and lights activated. Smith moved to the right to allow the ambulance to pass, but troopers say her car moved back into the roadway and hit the ambulance in the eastbound lane.

Lea Kraemer, 22, and Sarah Doelker, 23, were sitting in the backseat of the Jetta and died from blunt force trauma. Troopers said both victims were German. The other occupants of the Jetta were taken to Palmetto Health Richland, including Smith; the front seat passenger, Allen Butt, 20, of Beaufort; and backseat passenger Luke Thomas, 21, of Trenton.

The driver of the ambulance, Christopher Leagan, 28, of Prosperity, was taken to the emergency room in Newberry. The passenger, Ashley Stevens, 24, of Lexington, was taken to Palmetto Health Richland.

"This tragedy touches all of us as members of a community," said Presbyterian College President John Griffith. "We are saddened and shaken by our loss. My prayers go out to the families of these young people and especially those who lost their children last night."

Griffith said the students were on their way back to Clinton from a school dinner at an authentic German restaurant in Prosperity. "I immediately went to the hospital, as did our dean of students and director of religious life so we could be with the family, friends that were gathering," said Griffith. "Of course your heart sinks when something like this happens."

Sheriff Lee Foster said the ambulance had its lights and sirens activated because it was headed to a call a few miles away from the crash site. "Unless otherwise advised by a doctor, all calls are considered emergencies," said Foster.

Troopers said all drivers and passengers were wearing seatbelts. The accident is still under investigation, and no criminal charges have been issued.

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