ORANGEBURG, SC – A father and his little daughter’s journey to visit family ended in tragedy as they succumbed to hypothermia after their vehicle crashed and subsequently went up in flames. The duo was discovered a short distance from their charred pickup truck by police dogs.
Jason Murph, 42, and his six-year-old daughter Michelle were located almost 50 yards from the burnt-out wreck of their vehicle on December 18th. The doomed trip was intended to take them to visit Murph’s mother.
Post-mortem examinations of the victims failed to conclusively determine a cause of death. However, based on weather considerations, the Calhoun County coroner affirmed hypothermia as the likely cause.
The Coroner, Donnie Porth, suggested that the cooling effect of the wind and rain were key factors in their tragic fate. The bodies were found with no suspicious injuries and foul play has been ruled out in the case.
Murph and Michelle embarked on their journey from Blythewood, heading for Orangeburg which is 60 miles away. The police were alerted to their disappearance on December 16th after they failed to arrive at Murph’s mother’s house.
Murph called his estranged wife the night of the crash, informing her about the accident and their predicament, according to an incident report. Although he shared the details of the incident, Murph was unsure of their exact location.
Attempts by his wife to call him back or coax him to dial 911 via text message went unanswered. Surveillance footage from an Exxon station, taken slightly over an hour before Murph’s last known communication with his wife, shows his silver Toyota Tundra pickup.
The coroner proposed a scenario where Murph’s truck got stuck, leading to tire friction that ignited a grass fire. It’s believed Murph and his daughter managed to escape the burning vehicle, and attempted to put out the fire. They then set out on foot to find the interstate to call for help but ended up mired near a creek.