Teen killed in crash after leading deputy on chase identified, SC officials say

A Midlands teenager was killed in an early-morning crash after leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, South Carolina officials said Sunday.

Laila Rose Houser, a 17-year-old Camden resident, died in the accident, according to Kershaw County Coroner David West. The Camden High School senior was the driver trying to escape a deputy, and she died after crashing into a large tree, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office said.

The single-vehicle collision happened at about 1:15 a.m., after the pursuit on U.S. 1, according to Master Trooper Gary Miller of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The incident began when a deputy saw two vehicles parked in the side lot of a closed Dollar General store on U.S. 1 in Lugoff, the sheriff’s office said. The deputy approached the vehicles, and one of them backed up over a curb and drove away at a fast rate of speed, according to the sheriff’s office. The fleeing vehicle was a Toyota Camry, Miller said.

A deadly collision in Kershaw County is under investigation. Kershaw County Sheriff's Office
A deadly collision in Kershaw County is under investigation. Kershaw County Sheriff's Office

The deputy got back in his patrol vehicle and chased the Camry, and had almost caught it when the car made a sudden left turn onto Richardson Boulevard, according to the sheriff’s office. That’s near Lugoff-Elgin High School.

The vehicle was moving too fast for the turn, the sheriff’s office said.

The Camry ran off the right side of the road and down an embankment, crashing into the wooded area, officials said.

Houser, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, according to West.

Miller said Houser was the only person in the car, and no other injuries were reported.

“It is unclear at this time why the 17-year-old chose to flee from the deputy,” the sheriff’s office said. “We ask that you keep the driver’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”

The sheriff’s office is leading the investigation into what prompted the teen to speed off, while the Highway Patrol is the lead agency investigating the collision.

This was the second time in a week that a teenager was killed in a Kershaw County crash.

On Jan. 22, William Shealy, a 16-year-old junior at Lugoff-Elgin High School, died at the scene of an accident about 2 miles away near the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 601, Coroner David West said.

Through Jan. 23, at least 45 people had died on South Carolina roads in 2023, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Last year, 1,075 people died in crashes in South Carolina, DPS reported.

At least two people have died in Kershaw County crashes this year, DPS data shows. Last year, 17 deaths were reported in the county, DPS reported.