Before the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ true crime saga in South Carolina became national and international news last year – i.e. before the infamous double homicide at Moselle or the bizarre roadside shooting involving disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh – the story revolved around a fatal boat crash.
To recap: The late Paul Murdaugh (who along with his mother Maggie Murdaugh was murdered at Moselle last June) crashed his father Alex’s 17-foot, center console Sea Hunt fishing boat into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. shortly after 2:00 a.m. EDT on February 24, 2019.
Seconds before the boat crashed, GPS data obtained by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) indicated the vessel was traveling at a speed of approximately 29 miles per hour (or approximately 25 knots).
The crash killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton county, South Carolina and injured several other passengers.
(Click to view)
Beach (above) was flung into the cold dark water following the boat’s impact with the bridge. Her body was found a week later several miles from the site of the crash.
At the time of his death in June 2021, Paul Murdaugh was facing three felony boating under the influence charges in connection with Beach’s death and injuries sustained by other passengers. Meanwhile, Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son – Buster Murdaugh – are among the codefendants in an ongoing civil action related to the 2019 boat crash. Alex Murdaugh is also reportedly at the heart of an ongoing criminal inquiry into alleged obstruction of justice in its aftermath. News of that inquiry was exclusively reported by this news outlet four days after the killings.
Earlier this month, I sat down with attorney Steve Sumner of Greenville, S.C. to discuss this case. Sumner – one of the Palmetto State’s foremost driving/ boating under the influence attorneys – offered all sorts of insights. And not just about this case, either.
In the segment featured above, Sumner walked me through the applicable case law related to this crash – zeroing in on what likely would have happened had the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson taken the case to trial.
“It’s a fact case,” Sumner told me, boiling the crash down to its essence. “Are there witnesses? Is there video footage? Are there people who say he shouldn’t have been driving? We also have the actual wreck itself – which is indicative of not being able to operate (a boat) the way a prudent person would. And also we have the speed of the boat. I think that would probably have been where Alan Wilson would have taken it.”
Sumner also pulled the lens back and addressed the ongoing civil case and questions of liability.
In addition to sharing more from our interview soon, I am looking forward to having Sumner back in the studio soon to delve deeper into the 2019 boat crash. Also, thanks to Sumner’s firm – Sumner and Todd – for supporting our work as one of our valued advertisers.
Stay tuned for much more from this interview …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that retro Atlanta Braves’ lid pictured above (worn upon request).
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