Crime & Courts

USC president’s message to students in wake of fatal DUI crash

Family of USC student killed in DUI crash speaks out

From November 2017: The family of David Newell remembers the late University of South Carolina student after a bond hearing for Charles Davenport.
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From November 2017: The family of David Newell remembers the late University of South Carolina student after a bond hearing for Charles Davenport.

In the wake of losing two students in a fatal drunken driving crash, the University of South Carolina president asked students on Tuesday to pledge to never drink and drive.

USC President Harris Pastides made the request after Charles Davenport, 24, was charged with felony DUI involving the death 22-year-old David Newell. He is accused of striking Newell, who was riding on his moped, and dragging it down Rosewood Drive until both crashed into a tree.

A judge set his bond at $75,000 on Tuesday. Davenport was “grossly intoxicated” and driving twice the speed limit when he hit Newell’s moped, said Josh Golson, an assistant solicitor in Richland County.

In the statement issued to students, Pastides lamented Newell’s death, and the fact that Davenport also is a former USC student, who unenrolled from the university on Sept. 19, just weeks after his first semester.

“High-risk behavior has resulted in the tragic death of one Gamecock and a life-altering scenario for another,” Pastides said. “Two families are irrevocably changed.”

Pastides called on students make or renew their “personal commitment to self-responsibility.”

“Also, make a concentrated effort to look out for each other,” he said. “We must also stop our friends from drinking and driving.”

Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan

Read the entire statement from USC President Harris Pastides:

Dear students,

Last week, we lost a member of the Carolina family—a promising young man whose life was needlessly cut short due to injuries sustained when a truck collided with his moped. The driver of the truck, a former Carolina student himself, had been drinking and has been charged with felony DUI.

Often, we speak to you about the dangers of high-risk behavior and high-risk activities like alcohol and drug use. Often, we speak those words in the abstract…not today. High risk behavior has resulted in the tragic death of one Gamecock and a life-altering scenario for another. Two families are irrevocably changed.

The poet John Donne’s line, “Any man’s death diminishes me,” surely reflects my sadness right now. And I find that I’m frustrated as well in knowing that this did not have to happen.

So, I feel that I must ask you, once again, pledge to never drink and drive. Right now, make or renew your personal commitment to self-responsibility. Also, make a concentrated effort to look out for each other. We must also stop our friends from drinking and driving. We must recommit to the tenets of Stand Up Carolina — to be observant, to encourage friends to take safety precautions, to be ready to step in and speak up when something seems dangerous, wrong or illegal. As you become an active bystander, you will help make USC a safer environment for all those who live, work and study here.

For those of you who bicycle, ride a moped or a motorcycle, please, always wear a helmet. While many facts are still unclear in this case, there is overwhelming evidence that a helmet can save your life in the event of an accident.

On behalf of our Carolina Family, Patricia and I send our prayers to both families in hopes that they find solace in the days ahead.

— Harris Pastides

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