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Indian Land student killed in wreck

INDIAN LAND -- Derek Hammaker, 18, a senior at Indian Land High School, died Sunday night in a head-on collision on S.C. 160 East.

For students and staff at Indian Land High, it's like losing a member of the family, Principal Kathy Faris said.

According to the S.C. Highway Patrol, Hammaker's 1994 black four-door Honda collided head-on with a 2007 silver Toyota Tacoma pickup truck driven by Marlon Edgardo of Lancaster. The wreck happened about a quarter-mile east of Fort Mill around 11:45 p.m. Sunday.

Hammaker was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he later died of his injuries. Edgardo was transported by ambulance to Carolinas Medical Center.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts, according to Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Ron Johnson. He said alcohol and speed were not factors in the wreck. The accident is under investigation.

The mood at Indian Land High was somber Monday after the news was announced, Faris said. There were tears, she said, but there also was some laughter as students recalled favorite moments with Hammaker.

"We're a family and we've lost one of our precious ones," Faris said. "It's somber and quiet, but we're trying to go through a normal day."

Hammaker was a member of the school's Beta Club and was a Junior Scholar. He was planning a career in the U.S. Coast Guard.

He worked at the Leroy Springs Complex as a lifeguard for more than two years. Tammy Woods, complex director, remembers Hammaker as outgoing, and someone who valued his family. She said Hammaker shaved his head to support his grandmother, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was losing her hair.

"He was an extremely dynamic, outgoing individual," Woods said. "He talked to everyone. No one was a stranger."

Hammaker's sister, Shannon, is a junior at Indian Land High School.

Counselors were on hand Monday for students and staff, Faris said.

Neighbors, friends and family gathered at Hammaker's home in Black Horse Run to comfort his parents, David and Linda Hammaker.

Neighbor Margaret Tackett remembered Hammaker as "a wonderful young man."

"My daughter is only nine but I've often thought if they had been the same age, I would have wanted her to date him," Tackett said. "He was just a good kid."

The funeral will be 4 p.m. Thursday at Fort Mill First Baptist Church Worship Center.

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