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Medal of Honor recipient Carpenter charged with hit-and-run

Kyle Carpenter
Kyle Carpenter Alvin S Glenn Detention Center

Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter was charged Thursday with hit-and-run in connection with striking a pedestrian near the University of South Carolina campus in early December.

He also was charged by Columbia Police with making an improper left turn. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Carpenter, 26, was released on his own recognizance Thursday after a bond hearing at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. He has fully cooperated with the investigation, authorities said.

The youngest living recipient of the nation’s highest military award was involved in a “routine motor vehicle accident,” his attorney said. Carpenter believed the pedestrian was uninjured at first, Columbia attorney Butch Bowers said.

“After being notified by police that the pedestrian suffered an ankle injury, Kyle has fully cooperated with police and has at all times taken responsibility for this accident,” Bowers said in a statement.

According to Columbia Police, Carpenter is accused of striking an 18-year-old pedestrian who had the right-of-way on Assembly Street just after 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Carpenter allegedly struck the pedestrian while turning left from Blossom Street onto Assembly Street.

After the pedestrian was struck, Carpenter pulled over and turned on his hazard lights, but did not exit the vehicle, police officials said in a news release Thursday.

The pedestrian stood up and walked over to the side of road, at which time the former U.S. Marine left the scene driving south on Assembly Street, police said.

Carpenter “left the location without notifying the proper authorities.” according to the police incident report. “The driver of the vehicle involved in the accident did not return to the scene to give his name, address and the registration number of the vehicle nor made available his driver’s license or render reasonable aide or assistance to the victim.”

Bowers said Carpenter “believed that the pedestrian was not injured based on the pedestrian’s reaction and his ability to continue walking across the street, apparently without difficulty.”

After resting for a moment, the pedestrian went inside USC’s Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, authorities said. Columbia police responded to the gym after receiving several calls.

The victim suffered scrapes and a leg injury. He was treated by emergency medical personnel at the scene but declined to go to the hospital, authorities said.

Investigators reviewed surveillance tapes and witness statements and determined that the vehicle in the incident belonged to Carpenter, authorities said.

Carpenter, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree at USC, gave a statement to investigators, though it was not clear Thursday when he spoke with police or what he said. Bowers did not say in his statement when Carpenter learned the pedestrian was injured.

Police said Thursday that they have no evidence either Carpenter or the victim were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.

“Kyle is grateful that no one was seriously injured, and he applauds the police for their professionalism,” Bowers said. “Kyle looks forward to continuing his education at USC and working with young people to make sure they stand up for what is right and take responsibility for their actions, just as he has done in this instance,” Bowers said.

Carpenter received the Medal of Honor in 2014 for his actions while deployed in Afghanistan.

Carpenter saved a fellow Marine from a grenade lobbed by a Taliban fighter in 2010. He lost his right eye and most of his teeth. His jaw and right arm were shattered. The Jackson, Miss., native remained in a coma for five weeks, underwent dozens of surgeries and spent two years in the hospital for rehabilitation.

Since receiving the Medal of Honor, Carpenter has taken a high national profile, meeting with prominent figures and speaking to groups around the country.

Staff writers Andrew Shain and John Monk contributed

Statement from Kyle Carpenter’s attorney

Kyle Carpenter’s attorney, Butch Bowers, issued a statement after the Medal of Honor recipient was charged Thursday with misdemeanors for hit-and-run and making an improper left turn:

“Kyle Carpenter was involved in a routine motor vehicle accident involving the car he was driving and a pedestrian on Dec. 8, 2015. At the time of the accident, Kyle believed that the pedestrian was not injured based on the pedestrian’s reaction and his ability to continue walking across the street, apparently without difficulty. After being notified by police that the pedestrian suffered an ankle injury, Kyle has fully cooperated with police and has at all times taken responsibility for this accident. Of course, there were no drugs or alcohol involved. Kyle is grateful that no one was seriously injured, and he applauds the police for their professionalism. Kyle looks forward to continuing his education at USC and working with young people to make sure they stand up for what is right and take responsibility for their actions, just as he has done in this instance.”

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