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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Steve Benjamin Involved In Terrible Car Wreck Hours After Election

Mayor-Elect Steve Benjamin In wreck; Woman In Critical Condition

S.C. Authorities are investigating Wednesday’s car crash involving Columbia Mayor-elect Steve Benjamin and a hotel restaurant worker, who was hospitalized after the accident.

Benjamin’s automobile collided about 5:40 a.m. with a car driven by Columbia resident Deborah Rubens at the intersection of Gervais and Pickens streets.

Columbia Police responded to the crash involving Benjamin, who just hours earlier had been elected Mayor over City Councilman Kirkman Finlay.

Benjamin’s Mercedes sport utility vehicle was heading east on Gervais when the collision occurred, Columbia police said in a morning news release. A Toyota Tercel was heading north on Pickens Street when the crash occurred, police said. The Tercel car was making a right turn, Columbia police said.

Rubens, whose age was not immediately unavailable, was driving the Tercel and also was the only occupant in her car, according to reports from police and from her employers. She was taken to Palmetto Health Richland, according to Richland County EMS spokesman George Rice.

Rubens, who went to high school in the Columbia area, is an "excellent" employee of 10 years at the Clarion Hotel on Gervais Street, said general manager Bill Ellen. She is a server in the Clarion restaurant and a popular employee, he said.

Ellen said he went to the hospital to check on her but was unable to see her. He said she had to be cut out of the car and was in critical condition.

Michael Wukela said Benjamin was headed to early-morning media interviews in his Mercedes sport utility vehicle when the collision occurred. The Columbia Police Department said Benjamin was driving and was the only person in the car.

Wukela said Benjamin is OK, that he is "cooperating fully with police and his primary concern right now is that the woman in the other car is OK."

Wukela said Benjamin was driving to an interview at WLTX TV when the crash occurred.

Steve Benjamin was elected Columbia’s first African-American Mayor Tuesday night after a fierce campaign with Finlay.

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Sources: The State, Google Maps

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