We now know the identities of two people who died Thursday night after an SUV crashed through the guardrail on the Blossom Street bridge and plunged into the Congaree River.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts says the driver was 35-year-old Denzel Whyatt Jr. of Columbia and his passenger was 40-year-old Shannon Mickens of West Columbia.
The coroner says both died from drowning.
“Mrs. Mickens had just been picked up from work at a convenience store in the Bluff road area,” Watts says, “and they appeared to be heading for her home in West Columbia. So it was only about 10 minutes from when she was picked up till the crash happened.”
About 9:45 p.m., the SUV was traveling across the bridge toward Cayce when it swerved into and through the guardrail, then went off the bridge.
Watts says rescue crews reached Mickens first.
“Even though she was in cardiac arrest at the time, a lot of times people that are submerged in cold water...they're able to get them back if they're able to start CPR protocols and things like that on them,” Watts explained
“So they did transport her. However, she was pronounced dead in the ER about 11:16 p.m. Mr. Whyatt was recovered after the vehicle was removed from the water. We pronounced him at the scene about 1:30 this (Friday) morning.”
What happened to make the vehicle plunge off that bridge is still under investigation.
Road crews fixed the guardrail area Friday and say the bridge structure was not compromised in any other way from the crash.