A woman who called 911 after witnessing the wreck between Mayor-elect Steve Benjamin and a waitress told a dispatcher, "One guy didn't have his lights on."
Police Chief Tandy Carter has acknowledged police are investigating whether Benjamin's headlights were on during the pre-dawn wreck.
Benjamin also called 911 from his cell phone, according to the 911 audio files from the April 21 accident, released Friday by police.
Before speaking to the dispatcher, Benjamin can be heard telling someone at the scene that he had "the green light." He repeatedly asked the dispatcher to hurry as she asked him questions about what happened.
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After urging the dispatcher to quickly send help, Benjamin did not turn off his phone. It then appears that he made his way to the other car and tried to comfort the other driver, Deborah Rubens.
A third call from the scene came from a USC police officer.
Audio files of the three 911 calls are the first documents the Columbia Police Department has released since the accident. They were released after The State and other media outlets submitted Freedom of Information requests.
The incident report, photos and other documents have not been released.
Efforts Friday to reach Carter about the 911 calls and the investigation were not successful. Mike King, assistant city manager for public safety, also could not be reached for comment.
Benjamin continues to decline comment about the accident, his spokesman, Michael Wukela, said.
"Steve continues to keep Ms. Rubens and her family in his thoughts and prayers," Wukela said.
The accident happened just hours after Benjamin was elected the city's first black mayor and held a victory party at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
He and his family had reserved a suite at the nearby Hilton Hotel for the night.
On the morning of the accident, Benjamin was on his way to early television interviews. Rubens was on her way to work the breakfast shift at the Clarion Hotel, where she has worked for 10 years.
Benjamin was not injured. Rubens remains hospitalized at Palmetto Health Richland with a brain injury, a broken pelvis and broken collarbone.
Columbia police and a state Highway Patrol officer called to the scene have said Benjamin was not impaired. Rubens' condition while driving is unknown.
The 911 calls give insight into the panic and confusion that are present during emergencies.
Benjamin and the female witness each called 911 at 5:43 a.m., according to the audio files.
The woman, who does not identify herself to the dispatcher, said she had just witnessed a head-on collision at Pickens and Gervais streets.
"One guy didn't have his lights on," she said. "Two cars hit head-on."
However, news photos taken at the scene indicate Benjamin's Mercedes-Benz R350 crossover vehicle hit Rubens' Toyota Tercel on the driver's side.
The dispatcher asked if anyone was injured, and the woman told him that people were checking.
The dispatcher then asked what types of vehicles were involved. The woman said, "A black van and a burgundy, it looks like a Chevrolet, maybe. An old model, two-door Chevrolet."
She then told the dispatcher, "No, they're not OK. We need an ambulance."
When Benjamin called, he did not immediately realize the dispatcher had answered. He can be heard telling someone at the scene, "Yeah, I know I had the green light." Someone in the background then agreed with him.
He then realized the dispatcher is on the phone and asked for help to be sent to the Clarion Hotel on Gervais Street.
The dispatcher misunderstood Benjamin when he said the Clar ion Hotel. He repeated the hotel name and gave the Gervais Street address.
Throughout the call, Benjamin begged the dispatcher to send an ambulance. Several times he asked her to "hurry."
When the dispatcher asked if anyone was injured, Benjamin answered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
When the dispatcher asked if anyone was trapped in a vehicle, Benjamin replied, "Maybe. Possible entrapment. Please hurry."
The dispatcher said rescue workers were on their way, and Benjamin ended his conversation with the dispatcher but did not hang up the phone.
It sounds as if he had made his way to the other car and was talking to Rubens.
The 911 audio has a lot of background noise, so it's hard to hear exactly what people at the scene are saying to each other.
It is clear toward the end of the call that Benjamin is repeatedly saying, "It's going to be OK. It's going to be OK. It's going to be OK."
He repeated that sentence at least five times.