20-year-old indicted in fatal South Carolina boating accident

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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – A 20-year-old man has been charged in the death of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old killed in a boat crash in the Lowcountry in February.

Paul Murdaugh has been indicted on three felony charges by a Beaufort County Grand Jury: boating under the influence causing death and two counts boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office will be prosecuting the case. They were handed over the investigation by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Thursday.

Six people, all underage, were onboard the boat the night of Feb. 24 when the crash at Archer’s Creek occurred.

All occupants were ejected, and Beach’s body was found a week later.

All six were said to have been “grossly intoxicated,” according to law enforcement.

Breathalyzer or sobriety tests were not done at the scene because officers couldn’t determine who the driver was, although investigators narrowed it down to one of two people: Paul Murdaugh or Connor Cook, both 20.

Earlier this month, News 3 spoke about the tests with a spokesman for the SCDNR.

“Same thing as if everybody standing around a car, you don’t know who drove it. It’s not against the law to be standing around a car intoxicated, it’s against the law to drive it,” SCDNR’s Robert McCullough explained. “Until you can prove who was driving it, you have probable cause to test them if they were driving under the influence.”

Murdaugh’s grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh, used to be the 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor, covering Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton, and Allendale counties. Murdaugh and his son have a family law firm and still try cases in the circuit.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office recently recused itself from the investigation because of a “longstanding relationship” with Randolph Murdaugh.

The grandfather is among those named in a suit filed by Renee Beach, Mallory Beach’s mother.

Along with him, she accuses a convenience store and a local restaurant of allowing the underage teens to purchase alcohol, drink alcohol and/or drive the boat while intoxicated.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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