SC county sued by family of woman killed in EMS vehicle crash

The lawsuit alleges paramedic Danny Tinnel was negligent when the EMS vehicle he was driving while responding to a call crashed into the Dyer family’s truck

By Stephen Fastenau
The Island Packet 

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. — The driver of a Beaufort County emergency vehicle involved in a fatal crash in November was speeding and didn't apply the brakes in the final seconds before impact, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Vaughn Dyer, whose wife Stacey died from injuries in the crash, is suing Beaufort County on behalf of himself and his wife's estate. The lawsuit alleges paramedic Danny Tinnel was negligent when the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban EMS vehicle he was driving while responding to a call crashed into a Dodge pickup truck carrying the Dyer family out of town for Thanksgiving in the early morning of Nov. 17.

Stacey Dyer died two days later.

The court papers allege Tinnel had caused or contributed to previous wrecks, was previously reprimanded by the county for his driving of emergency vehicles and has been cited for speeding.
Reached Friday, Tinnel referred questions to a county attorney.

"It is Beaufort County's policy not to comment on matters which are in litigation," county attorney Tom Keaveny said in an email.

Tinnel has not been charged in the wreck.

A crash investigation involving multiple agencies is ongoing, S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Matt Southern said. He said there is no timetable for the probe and that time required for an investigation varies based on the case.

Tabor Vaux, the Bluffton attorney representing the Dyer family, said his office isn't close to finishing its own investigation and that more could be added to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said the county has allowed employees to drive emergency vehicles while facing charges for driving under the influence and other traffic offenses. The court filing does not accuse Tinnel of driving under the influence.

Tinnel was driving 76 mph just before impact and didn't apply the brake pedal for the final five seconds before the crash, according the lawsuit, which cited crash data from the vehicle's airbag module.

Stacey Dyer was a front seat passenger in the Dodge truck stopped at a stoplight on Trask Parkway when the SUV crashed into the pickup from behind just before 6 a.m., according to the Highway Patrol. Dyer, 42, died two days later at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Tinnel was responding to a call at the time of the crash and had been on duty since 8 a.m. the previous day, Keaveny has previously said. He has been a paramedic with Beaufort County since 1992, according to his Linkedin profile.

Beaufort County online court records show Tinnel received speeding citations in 2011 and 1998. Those records do not indicate if he was driving for the county or was in his personal vehicle.

He was sued by another driver in 2014 related to a crash on S.C. 170, Jasper County court records show. In that lawsuit, a man alleged Tinnel was driving too fast for conditions and failed to yield the right of way in a crash "causing a serious collision and serious injuries." Those records don't indicate if he was driving for the county or in a personal vehicle.

Tinnel didn't file an answer to the lawsuit and the case was dismissed in 2015 after the parties reached an agreement, court records show.

Copyright 2019 The Island Packet 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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