Georgia truck wreck spreads logs across interstate

A log truck overturned on I-16 West at the off ramp to I-516 West Monday morning blocking the westbound lane of I-16. No other vehicles were involved and the driver of the truck did not require hospitalization.

SAVANNAH -- If Keith Smalls didn't appreciate the dangers of driving a log truck before, he does now.

On Monday morning, Smalls was behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer loaded with 20 tons of timber when the colossal truck toppled over on Interstate 16 at the I-516 exit.

No injuries resulted, but the crash shut down the busy stretch of I-16 for most of the day and left Smalls, who hauls logs out of Yemassee, S.C., pondering his second spill in three months.

"It looks like I'm in the same boat again," Smalls said Monday afternoon, adding of his chosen trade: "A lot of folks say they wouldn't do it, but it's fine with me."

Recounting Monday's mishap, Smalls said he was headed west on I-16, bound for International Paper, and tried to turn off at I-516 shortly before 9:30 a.m.

Roadside trees, however, had obscured traffic that was backed up on the off-ramp. Smalls - to avoid plowing into the idling vehicles - veered back to the interstate, causing the payload to shift and spill.

"I'd hate to run into the back of somebody," he said. "So I turned back on the interstate."

Logs littered the roadway, and the crumpled truck lay on its side, heavily damaged.

"It was pretty nasty - logs everywhere," said Samuel Jackson, operations manager at Jackson Brothers Enterprises, which responded with log loaders to clean up the spill. "This was the worst one I've seen since the interstate's been open."

McClure Enterprises, based in Walterboro, S.C., also responded to pick up the truck.

Both tractor and trailer were totaled, said Andy McClure, owner of that wrecker service.

While crews worked to clear the wreckage, Savannah- Chatham police closed access to westbound I-16 from downtown Savannah until about 2:45 p.m. Smalls was cited for driving too fast for conditions, because the speed limit dips to 35 mph at the off-ramp, said Gena Moore, metro police spokeswoman.

Smalls said he was thankful for the outcome.

"It could've been worse," he said. "I'm all right, and no other cars were involved."

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