A man has been indicted in the boating death of Mallory Beach in Beaufort County, South Carolina. The PostandCourier.com reported that Paul Murdaugh, who was 19 at the time of the crash on February 24, was charged by the South Carolina Attorney General’s office with one count of boating under the influence causing death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.
As Trade Only Today reported, Murdaugh is part of a powerful family of attorneys in Beaufort County that had been associated with the county prosecutor’s office for three generations. As a result, the prosecutor’s office and sheriff’s office recused themselves from the case. It was eventually referred to the South Carolina Attorney General’s office and 46 days after the crash, charges have been filed.
.Jim Griffin of Columbia, an attorney for Murdaugh, told the paper that he had not seen the charging documents. According to the paper, Murdaugh faces a maximum of 25 years for the death charge and a maximum 15 years for each charge of causing great bodily injury. This was the only indictment to date.
Following the accident in the early hours of February 24, the sheriff’s office arrived first at the scene but handed over the case to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources because it was not equipped to handle boating deaths.
Despite officers reporting that the survivors of the boating crash appeared grossly intoxicated, investigators did not test the blood alcohol levels of anyone on board. Local media reported that members of the Murdaugh family arrived at the accident scene, identified themselves as lawyers, and ordered that any interviews or sobriety tests be halted.
According to media reports, everyone in the boat was thrown overboard after it struck a bridge, but Beach was the only person not to resurface. Her body was found seven days later about 5 miles from the site of the crash.
Renee Beach, Melanie’s mother, has filed a civil case against other members of the Murdaugh family, including Randolph III, Alex and Alex Murdaugh Jr., Paul’s father. Paul was not named in the lawsuit. The suit alleges that the older Murdaugh family members facilitated drinking before the boat crash. All six occupants of the boat were underage, and the suit alleges they had been drinking on a private island owned by a Murdaugh family trust before the crash.
The day charges against Paul Murdaugh were announced was the 46th day of the crash—which local media had complained about in front-page stories—but it also would have been Melanie Beach’s 20 birthday.
Mark Tinsley, an attorney for the Beach family, said Philip Beach took the day off to visit his daughter’s grave.
“I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to celebrate your 20th birthday with you,” Renee Beach wrote on her Facebook page on Thursday morning. “Happy Birthday in Heaven Mallory Madison Beach. I miss you so so much!”