CPD: Blossom St. bridge crash was 'deliberate act' - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

CPD: Blossom St. bridge crash was 'deliberate act'

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Investigators with the Columbia Police Department say a vehicle that crashed off the Blossom Street bridge and into the Congaree River in January was "a deliberate act."

Police released the final report on the investigation Thursday, saying the probe is now closed. According to the official incident report, the crash was classified as a murder-suicide.

"After a lengthy and thorough review, the Traffic Safety Unit has determined that the incident was a deliberate act as defined by the Uniform Traffic Accident Report Instruction Manual," read the report. "Investigators are unable to clearly determine which occupant contributed to the tragic event."

Toxicology reports released by the Richland County Coroner's office earlier this month showed the driver, Denzil Whyatt, Jr., had alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

Coroner Gary Watts said his tests show Whyatt had a blood-alcohol content of .127 and evidence of marijuana in his system. Passenger Shannon Mickens also showed evidence of marijuana in her system.

Whyatt and Mickens were killed when the SUV they were in plummeted about 50 feet into the Congaree River from the bridge. Watts said Whyatt and Mickens drowned.

"Based on witness statements and accounts, on-scene evidence gathered, a vehicle examination, the DSU has concluded that the incident was not a motor vehicle collision as defined by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety," reads a statement from CPD.

The statement went on to list the reason why the crash did not meet that definition:

The driver refrained from prudent acts which would have prevented occurrence of the event

Aggressive steering

Driver accelerated through the bridge's guardrail

No road hazards present

No weather-related conditions or hazards

No mechanical failure

Witness accounts – vehicle did not appear to be out of control, swerving or excessively speeding prior to crashing into the bridge

Toxicology reports

A man driving in the car behind the SUV told investigators it "did not seem to be out of control." The incident report says "there were no signs of breaking from the vehicle prior to striking the guardrail and leaving the bridge." 

The report also says investigators received several anonymous tips "stating that the driver (Whyatt) was violent at times, that the two were in a relationship, and that they fought a lot." A family member of Mickens told investigators "Mickens had told her in the past that Whyatt stated he was going to drive off the Blossom Street bridge."

The Columbia Police Department says the case is closed pending any additional information that may be discovered.

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