NTSB, Highway Patrol investigating Navy bus crash - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

NTSB, Highway Patrol investigating Navy bus crash

(Beaufort) March 14, 2004 - Over 100 sailors were traveling in two buses on their way to Beaufort for a special ceremony when one of the buses collided with a tractor trailer. Three sailors died in the accident and dozens more were injured.

The 80 sailors are crewman on the guided missile destroyer the USS Pinckney , which is docked in Charleston. The National Transportation board and the US Navy are investigating.

People turned out with flowers and wreaths at the site in Charleston Saturday to honor the crew members who died in the crash and to pay their respects.

Veterans like Arnie Stein say they understand first hand the bond the sailors share, "They try to do something good, honorable and a tragedy like this takes place. A very, very sad day."

The wreck happened about 8:00am Friday on US 17 near Gardens Corner. Highway Patrol LCpl. Paul Brouthers was on the scene Friday, "It was bad. I wouldn't call it the worst I've ever seen, but it was certainly one of the worst I've ever seen."

The Highway Patrol says the bus went off onto the shoulder and when the driver tried to get back on the road, he over-corrected and crossed the center line, colliding head-on with a truck that was travelling in the opposite direction.

The Pinckney is visiting South Carolina this week. It had been scheduled to leave Charleston on Sunday for its commissioning ceremony in San Diego. The ship will leave Charleston on Tuesday. 

Seventy of the military personnel that were travelling on the bus were transported to local hospitals and the Naval hospital in Beaufort. By Sunday evening 23 people were still in hospitals, all in stable condition.

The driver of the truck was airlifted to MUSC in Charleston. The son of 46-year-old Michael Clements of Yemassee says his father suffered several broken bones and a punctured lung in the wreck. But the son says his father is doing better.

The Pinckney is named after Beaufort native William Pinckney who is one of four African-Americans to receive the Navy Cross in World War II. The crew was headed to Pinckney's grave in Beaufort for a wreath laying. Pinckney was awarded the Navy's second-highest honor for saving the life of a shipmate during a Japanese attack on the carrier USS Enterprise in 1942. He died in 1975.

updated 4:28pm by BrettWitt

Powered by WorldNow