Winthrop students recover as friends mourn death from crash - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Winthrop students recover as friends mourn death from crash

Morgan LeAnne Hughes, 21, died after the car she was riding in with her roommates was hit by a Mercedes SUV. Morgan LeAnne Hughes, 21, died after the car she was riding in with her roommates was hit by a Mercedes SUV.

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS/WMBF) - Winthrop University officials have identified three of the victims in a chain-reaction crash that happened approximately a half mile from the scene of the discovery of two missing North Carolina teens in the Wateree River Sunday evening.

The bodies of two missing North Carolina teens were found in a submerged car in the Wateree River near Interstate 20, according to the coroner.

University officials said Morgan LeAnne Hughes, 21, died after the car she was riding in with her roommates was hit by a Mercedes SUV while both were approaching stopped traffic due to the recovery of the boys' submerged car.

Hughes is a Conway native, and used to work at the Hickory Grove Development Center in Conway. One of her coworkers, Jesse Short, says Hughes made a big impact in a small amount of time.

"She was just a pleasure to work with," Short says. "She was the kind of girl who could really brighten your day," recalls Short.

Short says Hughes' death is a tragic loss because she had such a bright future.

"You could tell she loved to work with the children," Short says. "She was also very ambitious about what she was going to school for and working with kids with special needs."

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the accident happened around 8:00 p.m. in the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 near mile marker 98.

Hughes and her roommates, Christian McBee and Caitlin Livingston, were headed back to campus when the collision sent their vehicle careening into the median.

"Our campus is truly lessened by Morgan's passing," said Vice President for Student Life Frank Ardaiolo. "Please join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to Morgan's family as we also pray for a quick and full recovery for Christian and Caitlin."

Livingston tells WMBF News she was released from the hospital on Monday, but is still recovering from several fractures in her back.  Livingston says she does not know how long it will take her injuries to heal.

WMBF News spoke to members of McBee's family Tuesday night, who say she is currently in a medically induced coma, as doctors work to reduce swelling in her brain. Hospital officials say McBee is in the intensive care unit.

The SUV that slammed into the students was being driven by an 18-year-old man from New Jersey. He was transported to the hospital. The extent of injuries are not known.

The Mercedes also hit another vehicle driven by a 16-year-old from Leesville. The driver and passenger in that vehicle were uninjured.

It is unclear if any charges have been filed.

Short says she hopes Hughes' family will be able to recover from the devastating loss.

"All you can do is just pray they find strength right now," Short says. "There's not much you say to comfort them; it's just really sad."

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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