GRAPHIC: SC deputy hit by distracted driver in school crossing zone released from hospital

Updated: Oct. 24, 2019 at 7:12 PM EDT
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LUGOFF, S.C. (WIS) - A deputy working in a school crossing zone at an elementary school was hit by a distracted driver Thursday morning, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Just hours later, she was released from the hospital and is doing OK, deputies said.

Deputy Chelsea Cockrell appeared to be in good spirits just hours after she was hit by a car.
Deputy Chelsea Cockrell appeared to be in good spirits just hours after she was hit by a car.(KCSO Facebook)

Deputy Chelsea Cockrell was working at Lugoff Elementary School, directing traffic as kids were getting dropped off, when a driver plowed into her around 7:10 a.m., throwing her body.

She had the blue lights activated on her patrol car and she was wearing a bright yellow reflective jacket when she was hit.

Miraculously, the sheriff’s office said the deputy is going to be OK. They released a dash cam video of the incident on their Facebook page to warn people about the dangers of distracted driving.

“This was senseless. It never should have happened," Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan said. "Someone should have been paying attention.”

The video shows the driver did not slow down before he hit the deputy. John Michael Carns admitted to police he was looking at his phone instead of the road.

Carns was written a ticket and is charged with driving too fast for conditions and texting and driving. He was not taken to jail.

“We could have had a deputy die," Boan said. "If it had been a child who had been lower to ground, we could have lost a child this morning because someone wasn’t paying attention.”

Keith Gerald was dropping his grandson off at school when Cockrell was hit.

“It was scary," he said. "There was very little braking before he hit her -- it was awful.”

Christina Lowe said Deputy Cockrell is the school resource officer at her son’s school and all the kids look up to her.

“It’s just scary to think that a crossing guard or a person in a school zone would be in danger in that way,” Lowe said.

The sheriff said Carns drives the road every day and knew Cockrell. Boan said Carns apologized to Cockrell on the scene and she accepted his apology.

Boan said he hopes the video makes people think twice about using cellphones while driving.

“We wanted to get it out there," he explained. “We wanted people to know that this is what happens when you aren’t paying attention.”

Boan said that other than a few bruises and scratches, Cockrell is fine and already at home recovering.

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