- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the Spartanburg County coroner releasing toxicology results from a crash that killed four USC Upstate students (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

The Spartanburg County Coroner has released toxicology test results that show the driver in a crash that killed four USC Upstate students last fall was legally drunk.

The results show two of the three passengers in the car also had blood alcohol levels above the 0.08 percent legal limit to drive in South Carolina.

Coroner Rusty Clevenger delayed releasing the results until he got an opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office about a 2014 state Supreme Court ruling that autopsies are medical records.

The opinion says the toxicology tests are medical records, but the coroner can talk about them without violating the law.

Clevenger says he wanted to be extra careful because he always wants to protect the families of the dead.


12:50 p.m.

South Carolina’s top prosecutor says toxicology reports from autopsies are medical records that under a recent state Supreme Court ruling cannot be released to the public.

But in an opinion filed last week, the state attorney general’s office also said a coroner can talk publically about the results of blood and alcohol screenings without violating federal health privacy law.

Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger asked for the opinion. He usually releases toxicology reports in cases of public interest, but some family members of four USC-Upstate students killed in an Oct. 11 wreck objected to him releasing the results.

Clevenger has scheduled a Monday afternoon news conference to talk about the opinion and the October wreck.

The opinion is researched by the attorney general’s office, but is not binding in court.

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