COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Cayce police say a car that caused a deadly, three-vehicle crash early Friday morning was stolen and officers found drugs and a gun inside.
Cayce police say officers attempted to stop 23-year-old Shyborn K. Belton at the intersection of State St. and Knox Abbott Dr. at about 12:30 a.m. Friday. Officers say Belton drove as fast as 70 mph as he took off across the Blossom St. bridge.
Police say Belton ran a red light at the intersection of Blossom St. and Huger St. and slammed into a mini-van driven by Chamberlain E. Branch, 48.
"When he got to the intersection the 2011 Hyundai disregarded the stoplight, and that's when he struck the minivan traveling on Huger street," said Lcpl. Brent Kelly with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
According to troopers, the Hyundai Belton was driving collided with Branch's Ford mini-van which was traveling west on Huger Street and a Dodge mini-van taxi that was traveling south on Blossom Street. The Ford hit the Columbia Antique Mall and caught fire.
As a result of the incident, Branch and Belton died at the scene. The taxi driver was uninjured.
Three passengers in the Hyundai were transported to Palmetto Richland Hospital. Their conditions are not known.
Cayce police say the vehicle Belton was driving had been stolen from Columbia and he was driving under suspension. Police say they also found crack cocaine and a stolen pistol in the vehicle.
Cayce police say after an initial review of the crash, it was determined that departmental policy and procedures were followed by officers involved.
"Haven't determined that yet," said Kelly. "That will all be determined in the investigation the MAIT team does. As soon as they get that done we can get that out but right now it's still all under investigation."
Branch was a supervisor at the Governor's Mansion Complex.
Governor Nikki Haley said late Friday morning that she and her family are heartbroken over Branch's death. "Everyone who knew him loved him," said Haley in an emailed statement. "His smile and laugh were contagious. He was a very special part of our family, and his gentle soul, good humor, and care will always be treasured memories for each of us."
Branch leaves a wife, Cherisse, and three children.
According to online court records, Belton was most recently arrested in Richland County for possession of crack. That charge came on November 28. Belton was also charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of a stolen pistol in April. Since 2007, he had been convicted of various other charges including larceny, burglary, and resisting arrest.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol, Cayce Department of Public Safety and Richland County Coroner's Office are investigating.