HP changes policy after missing man's family not told about crashed car

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Missing motorist cases are about to be handled differently at the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

For more than two months, Billy Pound's smashed-up Volkswagen Beetle sat in a Ridgeway salvage yard.

The license tag and other identifying information were recorded in an incident report filled out by a Highway Patrol officer, along with a diagram showing how the car had spun out of control and rolled over in rural Fairfield County.

Meanwhile, Pound's picture and a description of the car were released by the Lexington County Sheriff's Department as part of a missing persons report made public on December 20.

But for some reason, the crash investigation and the missing persons case were not connected. South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel admits his agency needs to change its procedures. "Obviously, there's a breakdown from the standpoint of where the missing person report gets filed and the fact that we had filed an accident report," said Keel.

Pound's family found out about the accident only last Thursday. "To really describe what the family is feeling now, it's -- you know, some of the feelings are anger," said Joel Davis. "And that it would be unconscionable something like this was overlooked."

Keel says the patrol is reminding law enforcement statewide they can access DPS dispatch information. He's checked with SLED to make sure cases like this one can be linked with missing persons reports.

DPS is also changing its own protocol for investigating cases of missing drivers. "It's a matter of what I preach every day about communicating among ourselves," said Keel. "And that's what we got to be better at doing."

We still don't know what happened to Billy Pound. 911 calls immediately after the November 30 accident described a man wearing one shoe walking near the road, holding a towel to his head.

Air and ground searches turned up no traces. Another major effort will be launched this Saturday.

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