Speeding and failing to pass a slower moving vehicle with care appear to have caused a crash in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (SC), that left a 65-year-old woman dead and an elderly golf cart operator critically injured. The deadly wreck happened near the intersection of Havens Drive and S. 15th Avenue at around 6 pm on July 26, 2017.
According to television station WWAY 3, a woman who was driving a car “at a high rate of speed” cut around another vehicle on Haven Drive seconds before colliding with a golf cart traveling in the opposite direction. The impact threw the female passenger from the golf cart, and she died at the scene.
The injured golf cart operator recovered enough to give a preliminary statement to Horry County police investigators the next afternoon. Details from that account and information from witnesses caused investigators to dismiss a first description of the incident that portrayed the at-fault driver as swerving to avoid hitting an animal in the roadway.
Havens Drive is a narrow two-way neighborhood street that sits two blocks from the beach. Operating a golf cart there is legal, as spelled out in the Golf Cart Rules pamphlet published by the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety. Keeping carts within four miles of one’s home and on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or lower satisfies local ordinance and state laws.
At the same time, the pamphlet cautions, with emphasis, “Be aware at all times that golf cart occupants are extremely at risk when traveling in traffic. A golf cart offers no protection from collision. Remain alert and drive defensively!”
The vulnerability of golf cart occupants was tragically illustrated in this wreck on Havens Drive, which resulted from a car driver’s failure to follow the state’s law on “overtaking and passing.” Section 56-5-1840(1) lays out what drivers must do in these terms: “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.”
My Carolina personal injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues learn each day about highly preventable tragedies like this one in North Myrtle Beach. Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family members of the woman who lost her life. We also wish for a full and rapid return to health for the man operating the golf cart. Last, we ask all drivers to slow down on neighborhood roads and to exercise great care when passing.