Police chase

Investigation finds fault with suspect in fatal crash

S.C. Highway Patrol determines suspect in December police chase was at fault in deadly crash

nophillips@thestate.comFebruary 9, 2013 

— A detailed investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol has concurred with original reports that a driver fleeing police was at fault in a crash that killed a beloved governor’s mansion supervisor.

The Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team finalized its report this week. The report’s purpose was to determine what caused the accident, said Sgt. Kelly Hughes, a Highway Patrol spokesman. The report did not reach a conclusion on whether the Cayce Department of Public Safety officer involved in the chase followed his department’s pursuit policy.

The city of Cayce has said it will not release information on the accident until the Highway Patrol report was finished. Efforts to reach Cayce Department of Public Safety officials Friday were unsuccessful.

A preliminary report released in January by the Highway Patrol named Shyborn Belton, 23, as the driver at fault in the fatal accident. He died at the scene along with Chamberlain Branch, 48, whose van was struck after Belton ran a red light.

A Cayce police officer initiated the pursuit after he tried to pull over Belton’s 2011 Hyundai that had disregarded a traffic stop near Knox Abbot Drive and State Street in Cayce, according to the preliminary report.

The officer pursued Belton at speeds that reached 90 miles per hour, according to the Highway Patrol report.

Belton fled across the Blossom Street bridge into downtown Columbia and ran a red light at the intersection of Huger and Blossom streets. His Hyundai slammed into Branch’s van and then struck a third vehicle, whose driver survived the wreck.

Branch worked at the governor’s mansion during three administrations, including for Gov. Nikki Haley. He is survived by his wife and three school-age children.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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