Crime & Courts

SC boy dies days after an alleged drunk driver struck the car he was in, coroner says

Ethan Frank Rubenzer died days after a car crash.
Ethan Frank Rubenzer died days after a car crash. Twitter screen grab

Two days after he was involved in a car crash, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy died in a hospital Sunday, the Spartanburg County Coroner said in a WYFF report.

S.C. Highway Patrol said Ethan Frank Rubenzer was a passenger in a car that was hit by a man charged with drunk driving, according to WYFF. The 11-year-old was on his way to school, per WSPA.

The sixth grade student died “as a result of injuries he suffered” in the wreck, according to a tweet from his school — High Point Academy.

“We are absolutely heartbroken and saddened about the loss of one of our beloved students,” the school wrote on Twitter. “Ethan was a vibrant young man who always brought a smile to our faces.”

Rubenzer would have turned 12 years old on Friday, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

Kelley.JPG
Spartanburg County Detention Center

The deadly wreck was a three-vehicle collision, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol, which said Michael Eugene Kelly II crashed a 2014 Chevrolet into the side of the car Rubenzer was riding in, causing it to overturn and crash into a third vehicle, per WHNS.

Jail records show the 29-year-old Spartanburg man was charged with two counts of felony DUI and driving under suspension. No bond has been set for Kelley, who remains behind bars at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.

“It really hits home. I feel like I lost my own child,” said High Point Academy superintendent Christy Junkins, adding grief support counselors will be available at school, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

“We are grateful for the continued support, love, and prayers from our community. We ask everyone to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers. We ask that you, please respect the privacy of our families during this difficult time,” the school said in a WHNS report.

Named after Lexington 6-year-old Emma Longstreet, the 2014 law requires installation of device on vehicles of first-offense drunk drivers

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.


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