Victims of Wednesday crash identified

Melinda Pipp

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Four people who died in an early morning crash at the intersection of George Rogers Boulevard and Shop Road have been identified.

The Richland County Coroner's Office identifies the victims as 22-year-old Billings Fuess IV, 22-year-old Brian McGrath, 23-year-old Kelsey Harris and 24-year-old Melinda Pipp.

Authorities say McGrath was driving when the car missed a sharp curve and slammed into a building. It burst into flames a few minutes later.

Officials say all four victims died before the fire started and it is believed that the driver, McGrath, the front seat passenger, Fuess, and at least one of the girls in the back seat were not wearing a seat belts.

Friends of the victims say the group was celebrating Kelsey Harris' 23rd birthday the morning of the crash.

Melinda Pipp was an employee of the Wild Hare Sports Cafe in the Vista. Authorities say the group was there earlier in the evening, and was last seen at another nightspot called Uncle Festers before leaving in McGrath's car.

USC officials confirm three of the victims were students at the university. President Harris Pastides says Harris and McGrath were current students, and that Fuess was a former student.

Pastides says the university is offering free counseling services for students, staff and anyone who needs to speak with a professional about the tragedy. The number to call is 803- 777-5223.

Authorities are still investigating the crash. They say speeding may have contributed to the accident. Toxicology results will be ready in a couple of weeks.