Two chain-reaction crashes on South Carolina interstates in mid-March 2015 created so much damage from the impacts and resulting fires that the number of people killed in the wrecks remained undetermined for days afterward. The first accident, on I-26 through Enoree, SC, involved at least two cars, an SUV, a good Samaritan pedestrian who had stopped to render assistance and an 18-wheeler. Two people survived that crash on the night of March 19 with life-threatening injuries.
Investigators told reporters that figuring out how many people lost their lives would require DNA testing because a fireball that erupted when the tractor-trailer ran into the earlier crashed vehicles made visual identification of the remains impossible. Authorities also lacked answers on why the first two cars collided, whether the pedestrian had any relationship with the people in those cars or how the big rig failed to avoid rear-ending or sideswiping the crashed cars.
On the evening of March 20, I-95 in Florence County saw the second multivehicle, multiple fatality interstate crash. Witnesses who avoided becoming involved in the wreckage said that as traffic slowed, two cars ran up underneath the trailer of a big rig and became trapped. Another semi and a fifth vehicle later piled up, and the first tractor-trailer became engulfed in flames. Again, an unknown number of people died, but one of the fatalities was confirmed as being a baby in one of the cars. It was also known that other passengers remained pinned inside the cars as they burned.
Even as answers regarding causes, victim identities and liability remain unanswered, one irrefutable fact emerges from both of these deadly South Carolina wrecks: Following drivers must slow down when approaching dangerous road conditions. The incidents turned deadly when approaching commercial trucks failed to stop or change lanes in time. No one can know right now whether speed, distraction, impairment or following too closely made avoiding earlier crashes impossible. At the same time, observing the speed limit, leaving adequate distance, driving sober and paying attention prevent most accidents.