ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — South Carolina State University shared a heartbreaking update on Friday confirming the deaths of one student and a graduate in an early morning crash.
“Our hearts break for the families of the beautiful souls we’ve lost,” the university's interim president Alexander Conyers said in a statement. “There are no words that will dull the pain currently being experienced by their immediate families."
The university identified the victims as recent graduate Zeleria Simpson of Charleston and student Shemyia T. Riley of Greenville.
The university's statement went on to say that Simpson was a standout guard for the Bulldogs women's basketball team before her graduation in May. She earned degrees in criminal justice and law enforcement administration.
Riley was a Junior who was majoring in social work and was also a Dr. Emily England Clyburn Honors College Scholar who had recently been named a 2022 Shining Star by the university foundation.
Three others students, Dasia Lucas, Chukeya Williams, and Fuquan Hills, were also injured and hospitalized.
The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office later confirmed that the crash was the result of a pursuit involving the South Carolina Highway Patrol around 1 a.m.
A spokesperson for the Highway Patrol added that the chase began when a trooper spotted a sedan speeding on U.S. Highway 21 Bypass. But the agency said the driver didn't stop when the trooper tried to pull them over.
State Patrol officials went on to say that the driver made several turns while attempting to lose the pursuing trooper before crashing into another vehicle at South Carolina Highway 33 and South Carolina Highway 178.
The sheriff's office said Simpson and Riley were each in separate vehicles. The highway patrol deferred to investigating agencies for additional details but did say that charges are pending against the driver who caused the crash.