By DEUCE NIVEN
“Inconsistencies” in a state trooper’s account of his actions after locating an abandoned car in northern Horry County last month have resulted in his termination, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported Wednesday.
Stephanie Callahan died after apparently walking away from her car, which was involved in a crash in the early morning of Feb. 19 on Morgan Road near the North Carolina line.
Lance Cpl. R.W. Batchelor investigated that crash about 2:30 a.m., finding no one with the car. Family members found the body of Callahan, who was 24, three days later in a tree stand in a nearby section of woods.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Tony Hendrick said Callahan likely froze to death.
Highway Patrol officials initially defended the investigation of the abandoned car, saying protocol was followed in the case, based on information supplied by the trooper.
“We later learned of inconsistencies in the trooper’s account that resulted in an internal investigation by the SCDPS Office of Professional Responsibility,” the patrol statement said. “This investigation, which revealed that Mr. Batchelor did not properly follow protocol with his supervisors, the Callahan family and local law enforcement, led to the termination of employment of L/Cpl. R.W. Batchelor.”
Batchelor was terminated Tuesday, though the effective date will be Feb. 23, when he was suspended during the investigation.
A trooper since 2006, Batchelor was assigned to the Highway Patrol in Horry County.