3 Sailors killed in fatal bus crash

19 Mar 2004 | Cpl. Jeff M. Nagan

Three Sailors were killed, 24 were treated at area hospitals, and 47 suffered minor injuries March 12 when one of the four buses they were traveling in collided with a truck on U.S. Route 17 about 20 miles north of Beaufort.

Seaman Apprentice Kip C. J. Baker, 19, of Pittsboro, Ind., Gas Turbine Systems Electrical Technician 2nd Class Alfred J. Concepcion, 25, of Upper Marlboro, Md., and Fire Controlman 1st Class Michael T. Booker, 33, of Austin, Texas, were killed in the accident.

“Whenever we lose a Sailor, it’s a tragedy,” said Navy Lt. Jim R. Hoeft, Navy Spokesman, Fleet Forces Command. “By these Sailors going down there (to Beaufort) … shows just how committed they are to our nation’s mission.”

Since the accident 30 Sailors have been treated and released. However 12 Sailors continue to be treated, according to Hoeft.
“It’s a blessing,” Hoeft said. “We expect the other 12 to recover fully, so they can join their other shipmates.”

All but three injured in the accident were treated at Beaufort Naval Hospital or Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, S.C. Three individuals were airlifted to Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, Beaufort Memorial Hospital and Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Ga.

The buses involved in the accident were the last two of a four-bus convoy. The 200 Sailors, from the guided-missile destroyer the USS Pinckney, were traveling from Charleston to Beaufort for a wreath-laying ceremony, honoring their ship’s namesake, who is buried there.

The ship is named for Petty Officer 1st Class William Pinckney who received the Navy Cross during World War II for his courageous rescue of a fellow crewmember during the Battle of Santa Cruz.

The three Sailors killed in the accident were memorialized Monday at a ceremony aboard the Pinckney. Crewmembers of the Pinckney, Henrietta Pinckney, widow of the William Pinckney, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and Congressman Henry E. Brown Jr. attended the memorial. The service included remarks from guests and the ship’s captain, eulogies, gun salutes, “Taps” and “Anchors Away.”

The South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Navy are investigating the accident.