Snow, ice batters I-95 travelers | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | January 11, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: January 9, 2018 at 3:52 pm
Members of the Colleton County Fire-Rescue and Colleton County Sheriff’s Office logged a lot of hours on I-95 last week after ice and snow turned the roadway into a winter wasteland.
Winter Storm Grayson hit the Charleston and Beaufort areas first the morning of Jan. 3. Safety forces were given a hint of what they were facing when icy roads near the Georgia-South Carolina began producing accidents, including at 13-car pileup.
The snow and ice made its way up I-95 to Colleton County by late morning and the traffic accidents and stranded motorists began to mount.
The biggest accident was about 1:30 p.m., a 10-car pileup on I-95 near the 60-mile marker.
A Weather Channel film crew, maneuvering the icy interstate to cover the storm, spotted the multi-vehicle crash and broadcasted the scene live.
Colleton County Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy said, “Fortunately, only one person involved had to be transported by ambulance.”
“This was one of many multiple-vehicle accidents,” McRoy said, “The South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office worked a multitude of accidents throughout the county, and we had units checking on them too.”
Fire-Rescue had crews out on the interstate much of the day.
The weather was so bad that many of the vehicles were just left in place and the people transported to a motel or shelter, McRoy stated. “It wasn’t safe for the wreckers to pull them out. Most of the roads were iced over — I-95 had about one or two inches of ice on it. You had trouble walking on it, much less driving,”
The sheriff’s office and fire-rescue units handling the transport of stranded motorists, McRoy added, were joined by Tommy Hill of the Colleton County Assessor’s Office who put the office’s four-wheel vehicle to work shuttling travelers off the interstate.
Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland, in a prepared release on the winter storm, said, “The sheriff’s office worked an A and B shift which brought in off-duty personnel allowing for maximum law enforcement personnel to cover the needs of the public during Winter Storm Grayson.”
The goal of the increase in manpower on the roadways, the release explained, was “for the safety of the public and emergency personnel working the storm. We experienced multiple vehicular accidents on Interstate 95 and other roads located throughout the county. We also experienced drivers being stranded and helped them to find lodging.”
To assist those travelers stranded in Walterboro, local officials began providing shelter.
They first started bringing people to the homeless shelter, but it filled up.
They then began placing them at the Colleton Museum and Farmer’s Market, but it filled up.
At about 11 p.m., Colleton Middle School was opened as a shelter. The sheriff’s office reported that 16 people were being housed at the middle school.
When the sun came up Thursday morning, McRoy said, I-95 “looked like a disaster movie.” There were wrecked or abandoned vehicles in the woodline, in the median and alongside the roadway.
Jan. 4 continued to see more accidents on I-95.
A portion of I-95 near the 68-mile marker was closed to traffic for approximately three-and-a-half hours after one tractor-trailer toppled over in the median and a second tractor-trailer jack knifed, blocking both the northbound lanes at 9:11 a.m.
The driver of the toppled truck sustained non-life threatening injuries, but fire crews had to remove the truck’s windshield to extricate him from his vehicle and transport him to Colleton Medical Center.
His truck slid completely backwards on the roadway before entering the median.
Other vehicles in the area were also having problems maintaining traction, prompting the S.C. Highway Patrol to close a portion of the interstate for several hours until S.C. Department of Transportation crews worked on ice removal and applied sand and salt to the roadway.
The interstate’s traffic was detoured to Augusta Highway to Jefferies Highway.
Colleton County Sheriff’s Office personnel assisted troopers with the detour.
Fire-Rescue also returned to its shuttle work on Thursday, transporting a van-load of stranded motorists and their belongings to the Charleston area in search of rental cars.