By DREW TRIPP, WCIV
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - While North Charleston Police investigated a deadly wreck Saturday morning that had claimed the lives of three people, authorities say an illegal immigrant allegedly driving while intoxicated crashed into one of the officers' patrol vehicles.
Herson Merida, 18, of Charleston, is in jail at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, where he's being held on a federal illegal entry charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. S.C. Highway Patrol has also charged Merida with driving under the influence.
According to L.Cpl. Matt Southern with the S.C. Highway Patrol, Merida on Saturday morning crashed a van into a North Charleston Police Department vehicle that was intentionally blocking Rivers Avenue as part of an investigation.
Highway Patrol says no officers were inside the patrol vehicle when it was hit, and no officers were hurt. The blue lights on the patrol vehicle were activated when Merida reportedly struck the vehicle, according to State Troopers.
The collision occurred around 3:10 a.m., as NCPD officers were investigating a previous wreck that happened at the Rivers Ave.-Remount Road intersection around 2 a.m.
State Troopers say they believe Merida was under the influence of alcohol. Merida reportedly refused to take a breath analysis for blood-alcohol content, however.
Merida is due in court on March 6 for the DUI charge. Highway Patrol says his license has been suspended.