Boat passenger files lawsuit against Murdaugh family, convenience store in deadly 2019 crash

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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A lawsuit was filed Monday against members of the Murdaugh family and a convenience store where alcohol was purchased prior to a deadly boat crash in 2019.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Connor Cook, a then-19-year-old passenger on a boat that was driven by Paul Murdaugh when it crashed into Archer’s Creek in February 2019.

According to the lawsuit, Paul Murdaugh, who was underage, purchased “large quantities of alcohol” using a driver’s license that belonged to his brother, Richard Alexander Murdaugh, Jr. (Buster), and a third-party credit card at Parker’s convenience store prior to the deadly crash.

“After consuming this alcohol through the day and into the early morning hours of February 24, 2019, Paul Murdaugh, drunk and traveling at excessive speeds down a narrow creek at night, without proper look-out or proper lights, crashed the boat belonging to his father into the Archer’s Creek Bridge,” the lawsuit states.

Several boat passengers were thrown into the water, including Mallory Beach. Beach went missing after the crash. Her body was recovered from the water about a week later.

The impact, according to the lawsuit, caused Cook to slam his body onto the boat frame and lose consciousness. It further states Cook woke up to a serious cut on his face and multiple fractures to his jaw.

The lawsuit claims it was known to various family members that Paul Murdaugh, despite being a minor, would “often drink to the point of intoxication” and was known to “operate family vehicles, including boats” while under the influence of alcohol.

It claims Parker’s, though an employee listed in the lawsuit, knowingly and willfully sold approximately $50.00 in alcoholic beverages to Murdaugh.

Surveillance footage revealed Murdaugh placed the alcohol that was purchased from Parker’s into the same boat that crashed into Archer’s Creek Bridge. “That same alcohol was consumed by Paul Murdaugh and other underage passengers during that evening and into the early hours preceding the boat crash,” the lawsuit claims

Cook called 9-1-1 shortly after the boat crash calling for help. Multiple law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene to assist.

Cook says while he was on the way to have his jaw x-rayed, Murdaugh instructed Cook to “keep his mouth shut” and inform law enforcement that he did not know who was driving the boat at the time of the crash.

Murdaugh was charged Mallory Beach’s death in April 2019. He pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.

Paul and Margaret were found shot to death at a family property in Colleton County in June 2021. Charges against Paul were dropped shortly after his death.

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