Patrolman William Bell and Deputy Marion Wright, of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department, were struck and killed on US 17A, at approximately 1800 hours, by a driver who was under the influence of prescription seizure medication. The man’s license had been previously revoked due to his condition and medication.
Deputy Wright, who had just finished his shift and was en route home, stopped to assist a disabled motorist. Patrolman Bell stopped to assist Deputy Wright. As the two officers changed the flat tire on the car, the oncoming driver left the roadway, hitting both patrol cars, the disabled vehicle, and both officers, killing them both instantly.
A witness to the incident apprehended the suspect and held him until other officers arrived. The suspect was charged with felony driving under the influence. He was convicted of two counts of reckless homicide and sentenced to two 10-year terms to run consecutively, but is eligible for parole after only 4 years. Since 2007 he has been denied parole each year. He will be eligible for parole again on July 25, 2013.
The section of highway where the incident took place was renamed William Boland Bell and Marion Eugene Wright Highway.
Patrolman Bell was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served in law enforcement for 2.5 years. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, five step-children, and three grandsons.