Driver charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide in crash that killed 2 NC girls

Driver charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide in crash that killed 2 NC girls
Neil Dejean, Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
Neil Dejean, Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
Source: WMBF News Matt Parris
Source: WMBF News Matt Parris
Source: WMBF News Matt Parris
Source: WMBF News Matt Parris

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The driver of the Mercedes involved in a crash on Highway 17 Business that left two North Carolina girls dead and six people hospitalized is facing two counts of reckless homicide, according to Corporal Sonny Collins with South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Horry County Coroner Robert Edge identified the victims of the crash as 11-year-old Dakota Shepherd from Timberlake, North Carolina, and her cousin, 9-year-old Skyler Emore. Both were pronounced dead at the scene from internal injuries, Coroner Edge said.

Neil Dejean, 47, from Duson, Louisiana, was driver of the Mercedes involved in the crash, and has been charged with two counts of reckless homicide. He was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center, according to Corporal Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Dejean has also been charged with open container of beer or wine in motor vehicle, but not for DUI, according to jail records. The magistrate's office at J. Reuben Long said the bond hearing should be Thursday at 9 a.m.

The two-vehicle accident blocked traffic on Highway 17 Business south near Pirateland Campground Tuesday evening, according to Horry County Coroner Robert Edge and the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The crash happened between a red Dodge minivan carrying a family of five, and a black Mercedes car carrying three passengers at about 8 p.m.

The Mercedes was traveling south on Highway 17, and the Dodge minivan was traveling north and turning left onto a private drive when it was hit by the Mercedes, according to Lance Corporal Hannah Wimberly with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The van lost control and struck a parked car on private property.

A mother, father, daughter, niece and son were in the Dodge van. The daughter and niece were killed in the crash, the parents were hospitalized, and their son was in the ICU Tuesday. The driver and two passengers of the Mercedes were also hospitalized, though their condition was not known Wednesday morning.

A man who works at Bargain Beachwear said he was taking a smoke break outside the building when he saw the accident happen.

"I noticed the black car moving fast on the highway," Nikita Paitrovich said. "In just one moment, it smashed."

The accident happened yards in front of him and he was concerned debris might hit him. He's safe, but he's upset knowing two young girls are not.

"It was the first time in my life I've seen something like that," he said. "I've never seen such a serious car accident before. So yea, it's pretty hard."

Cpl. Kerns of the Myrtle Beach Police Department says the MBPD officers were dispatched to the scene at 8:03 p.m.

A South Carolina Highway Patrol MAIT team is still investigating the accident.

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