Fiery wreck kills 3 brothers near Savannah

GUYTON, Ga. -- A Georgia family has lost three sons in a horrific crash on Georgia Highway 17 in Effingham County.

Wesley Mulligan, 18, was on the way to pick up his little sister at Marlow Elementary School about 3 p.m. Thursday when the Ford truck he was driving struck a gasoline tanker, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office spokesman David Ehanipoor said.

Passengers in the truck were his brothers, Garrett Mulligan, a 16-year-old ninth-grade student at Effingham County High School, and 3-year-old brother Eli Hickox.

The tanker truck was carrying 8,800 gallons of multiple grades of gasoline, according to Effingham County Fire Department Chief Jack Burnsed.

The tanker, which was headed south on Highway 17 at Marlow Road, exploded and the fire burned on and off for several hours.

Several area fire departments were called to respond to the intense fire, including Effingham, Springfield, Guyton, Rincon and the 165th Airlift Wing.

The location of the fire caused some challenges, Burnsed said.

“There are no hydrants there, so we had to shuttle water and used an enormous amount of foam,” Burned said.

Burnsed said also that with a fire of this type all resources first have to be in place before you can make progress.

“Foam has to create a blanket over the entire surface or you are just wasting your time,” he said. “It’s kind of all or nothing.”

Effingham Fire had about 40 firefighters respond. Burnsed said it was midnight Thursday before he was cleared from the scene.

Ga. 17 between Old Marlow Road and Falagan Street will be closed until at least Monday due to fire damage, Georgia Department of Transportation officials said.

Ga. 17 had been closed between Blue Jay and Midland roads.

“We’re looking at about 100 yards of asphalt that has to be redone,” DOT spokesman Jill Nagel said. “There was a lot of fuel spilled and the heat re-liquefied it, so that has to be repaired.”

Autopsies were conducted at the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah.

The crash remains under investigation but charges are not expected to be filed against the driver of the tanker truck, who was not hurt.

Ehsanipoor said the chaplain from the Sheriff’s Office is working with the family.

No funeral arrangements had been announced by Friday evening.

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