Wellford, S.C. (AP) – A South Carolina teenager was killed in a wreck on a stretch of highway named in memory of his father, a soldier slain in Afghanistan.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol said 18-year-old Aaron Shawn Hill was pronounced dead at the scene of Thursday morning’s wreck on Highway 129 in Wellford, which is in the northwestern part of the state.
The Highway Patrol said the Honda that Hill was driving was hit head-on when a Chevrolet pickup driven by 27-year-old Michael Blake White crossed the center line. Hill’s three passengers and White were taken to hospitals. No charges have been filed, but the investigation is continuing.
The local sheriff called it a freak accident.
“Aaron was a great kid. He always had a smile on his face,” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright told The Associated Press on Friday.
Wright said he got to know the family years ago when Hill and the sheriff’s son were playing little league baseball.
When the sheriff arrived at Thursday’s accident scene, he was the one who identified the body. Then Wright visited Hill’s family. He said Hill’s mother, Julie, was distraught, but trying to hold her together a family that includes Hill’s two younger brothers.
“It’s tragic. No one should have to go through this. They’ve been so much. It’s just unreal that he died on the same highway named after his father,” Wright said.
He said Hill and the other students in his car were wearing seat belts.
“The family has been through so much,” he said.
At the time of the accident, the boy was heading to school. He was going to graduate in a few months, and had talked about joining the military just like his father.
“Even after his father’s death, he kept a positive attitude. He kept that smile,” the sheriff said.
The portion of the highway where the crash occurred was named “Sergeant Shawn F. Hill Memorial Highway” under a resolution passed by the General Assembly. The 37-year-old member of the U.S. Army National Guard was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Hundreds of people had attended the father’s funeral.