Two people electrocuted assisting in car accident

ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - A deadly car accident in Orangeburg Sunday took the life of not only a person in the wrecked car, but also the lives of two people just trying to help.

The highway patrol says it's one of the most tragic and unusual accidents in Orangeburg history.

"I couldn't believe it. I had to ask my supervisor to explain it to me because it was pretty bizarre," said Lance Corporal Josef Robinson.

A spokesperson of the highway patrol says a car was on Highway Four late Saturday night when the driver tried to pass another car, then pulled into the path of an oncoming vehicle, overcorrected, and veered off the side of the road.

Two people who tried to help the people in the crash were electrocuted by a downed power line. Others were hurt.

"He was the type of person who would go out of his way to help anybody," says Shaquanda Wade. She says her fiance, 27-year-old Travis Jefferson, called her about an accident on Highway Four in Orangeburg County late Saturday night.

A car had hit a telephone pole and crashed into a tree. She says, "I asked him where were you, and he said one of his friends was just involved in an accident and he would give me a call back as soon as he got to help. I never received a call."

One person inside the crashed car was Travis' old school friend.

In the darkness of night, no one could see the accident had knocked live power lines to the ground. Investigators say Travis and three other people drove to the accident scene to help, but came in contact with a downed power line.

Travis and 33-year-old LaShanda Dupree were electrocuted. Two other people, Damon Nelson and Lakeisha Meeks, both 25, were shocked and suffered severe burns.

In the crashed car, 34-year-old Octavia Murphy died. Wilmon Callaway, 27, Travis' friend, suffered severe head trauma. He had been ejected from the car.

Shaquanda went to the scene, "I was out of it for a while. I was out of it."

She and Travis were getting ready to be married. "He always gave me strength to go on - encouraging words."

"He was a great family man," she says, and she's not surprised by what he did here. "If he could turn back the hands of time, if he were here, he would still say he would have done that for a friend or anybody."

The powerline that fell belonged to the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities.

Monday afternoon, WIS News 10 spoke with officials at SCE&G. They say if a power line contacts your vehicle, you should stay inside until help arrives. Avoid touching anything metal and the ground at the same time.

If you have to leave your vehicle, jump at far as you can. Then, make sure to keep your feet together and hop or shuffle your feet a few inches at a time.

If you come upon a vehicle that has struck an electric pole, tell the people to stay inside. Do not come in contact with anyone in the car. Do not rely on rubber boots, raincoats, or gloves for protection.

SCE&G officials say these precautions apply whether the ground is dry or wet.

The highway patrol is looking into how the initial accident happened, and if speed was a factor. The answer could be days away.

"Right now our prayers are with those at the hospital. We hope that everything is going to be fine and they're able to pull through this," Robinson said.

Reported by Trey Paul

Posted by Logan Smith