HORRY COUNTY (WMBF) – A fatal wreck closed down Bay Road in Horry County from Blue Heron Boulevard to Freewoods Road early Thursday morning.
According to information from the South Carolina Highway Patrol website, it happened at 3:24 a.m. in the 6000 block of Bay Road, near Seacoast Youth Academy.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Michelle McSpadden confirmed Thursday evening the three victims were local high school girls. One was a 14-year-old student from St. James Middle School, the second was a 15-year-old student from St. James High School and the third was a 15-year-old from Socastee High School.
McSpadden said all three families have requested the names of the deceased not be released.
The SCHP is investigating the crash.
Jerry Moore lives just across from Bay Road, and said he was woken up by the sound of the deadly crash. He added, at first glance, he thought two vehicles were involved. Eventually, he realized it was one vehicle in two pieces.
"It looked like part of it was in the middle of the road and part of it off to the side of the road." Moore said. "I can't imagine the force that was involved. It was obviously a tremendous impact."
SCHP Lance Cpl. Matt Southern said the driver and two passengers died on scene. The 2006 Toyota pickup truck was heading westbound on Bay Road, crossed the center line for unknown reasons and ran off the left side of the road. The truck then hit a ditch and a tree, causing the cab to break away from the truck's frame.
With families now in mourning three days before Christmas, Moore said his thoughts and prayers are with them.
"It's just tragic any time, but especially here right before the holidays, to know that three families will be without their loved ones," he said.
The driver was wearing a seat belt and sustained fatal injuries after being entrapped in the truck, according to the SCHP. One of the passengers, who was not wearing a seat belt, became entrapped in the truck and sustained fatal injuries. The second passenger, who was also not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the truck and sustained fatal injuries.