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Two Timberlake girls killed in Myrtle Beach wreck

Posted July 22, 2015

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— Two Person County girls on a family vacation were killed Tuesday night in a crash in Myrtle Beach, authorities said.

Cousins Dakota Shepherd, 11, and Skyler Emore, 9, both of Timberlake, were riding in a Dodge minivan on U.S. Highway 17 Business that was hit by a Mercedes sedan as the minivan was turning left into a private driveway, according to South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers. The minivan then hit a parked car.

Dakota's parents and brother also were in the van at the time of the 8 p.m. crash. Her brother, Justin Whitlow, 22, was in intensive care at Grand Strand Regional Hospital, and his parents, Curtis and Suzy Shepherd, and three people who were in the Mercedes also were hospitalized. Their conditions were unknown Wednesday.

Neil DeJean, 47, of Duson, La., has been charged with two counts of reckless homicide and having an open container of beer or wine in a motor vehicle, according to the Highway Patrol.

Alcohol has been ruled out as a factor in the crash, but troopers are still investigating the role speed played.

Dakota was a rising sixth-grader at Southern Middle School in Roxboro, while Skyler attended a charter school in Roxboro.

"(They were) just two typical kids – loved to play," neighbor Tracey Campbell said. "Always smiling and playing. Just two wonderful young ladies."

The family left Monday morning – Whitlow's birthday – for a week in Myrtle Beach, according to Campbell, who said she was heartbroken to awaken Tuesday to the news of the girls' deaths.

Campbell said Suzy Shepherd was very close to her daughter.

"She took her daughter to school every day, picked her daughter up from the bus stop every day. Nine times out of 10, they were most times together," she said. "Just say big prayers for the family because they are going to need it in time."

16 Comments

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  • Paul Jones Jul 23, 2015
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    Just in case you missed it, "alcohol has been ruled out as a factor in the crash."

  • Ray Lee Smythe Jul 23, 2015
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    No surprise he was from Louisiana. DWI capital of America. I should know. I've actually lived there at one time.

  • Paul Jones Jul 23, 2015
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    My thoughts exactly. It sounds like the driver if the minivan made a mistake. It might have been that the driver of the Mercedes was speeding.

    I recall a few years ago when a trooper hit a minivan at 125mph and killed people. That was ruled OK, since he was in hot pursuit after a speeder. While I disagree with that, the fact is nobody turning left in front of a vehicle running at high speed should be faulted. One second the road is clear and then, bam! A car covers a lot of distance at that speed.

    But, maybe this case is different. I'm surprised anyone was arrested until the cause was determined.

  • Belle Boyd Jul 22, 2015
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    Because he had an open container in a vehicle which is against the law. So drunk driving for him most likely. They are still investigating what happened. Like the van could have pulled in front of the Mercedes but was the driveway right after a hill or something where the van couldn't see the vehicle or the Mercedes driver was speeding and hit them and the minivan didn't see him coming.

  • Jim Frei Jul 22, 2015
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    From the limited info in this article seems the minivan with the kids turned left into the path of the Mercedes. If Mr. DeJean was driving the Mercedes, how come he was the only one charged?

  • Belle Boyd Jul 22, 2015
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    It says the guy was charged with having open container in car which most likely means he was drunk and driving or drinking and driving so alcohol is most likely a factor. If you are turning left into a driveway you don't have the right of way. It is like turning left onto a street..you have the right of way if you have the green light or traffic is all clear both ways.

  • Rick Martens Jul 22, 2015
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    WRAL--who is Neil DeJean and what role did he have in the accident? Was he driving the minivan? The Mercedes? Did the minivan have the right of way? Did the Mercedes? How was alcohol ruled out? Too much left to speculation.

  • Ashley Baker Jul 22, 2015
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    So sad. RIP beautiful girls.

  • William Cosby Jul 22, 2015
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    The van was destroyed. Makes you wonder how fast that scumbag in his flashy Mercedes was going.

  • Mike Whiting Jul 22, 2015
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    Drunk Driver hit them as they were turning.

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