Divers recover body of truck driver in Augusta Canal

TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Thursday, June 26, 2014 6:12 AM
Last updated Friday, June 27, 2014 2:34 AM
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After searching the Augusta Canal for 12 hours, authorities Thursday recovered the body of a truck driver about 300 yards downstream from where he lost control of his 18-wheeler and drove off Interstate 20 into the water near the state line.

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Police officers and other workers look at out the Augusta Canal near the broken railing on Interstate 20 bridge just past exit 200. A tractor-trailer drove off the canal bridge Thursday morning.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Police officers and other workers look at out the Augusta Canal near the broken railing on Interstate 20 bridge just past exit 200. A tractor-trailer drove off the canal bridge Thursday morning.

Cedric Miller, 48, of Hartsville, S.C., was killed in the accident, according to Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen. An autopsy will be performed in Atlanta.

Sgt. Michael McDaniel, a spokesman for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said in a news release that the wreck occurred at 3:51 a.m. when, for “reasons unknown,” the semi’s cab left the right side of I-20 East, hit the bridge railing and fell into the canal.

The sheriff’s office’s Serious Traffic Accident Response unit and officials from the state Department of Natural Resources aided in the search. Wayne Taylor, the battalion chief of the Richmond County Fire Department, said rescuers used underwater sonar technology to find the body.

The tractor-trailer was at least the third to run off the canal bridge in recent years.

Rodney Way, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s area engineer, said the overpass is scheduled to be replaced in 2016, along with the Savannah River bridge crossing into South Carolina.

Way said that the cost and time estimates have yet to be set for the replacement and that there is no known cause for why truckers are having trouble with the bridge.

McDaniel said the DOT replaced the bridge railing.

A review of reports and three years of wreck data from the DOT showed that at least 26 wrecks causing 23 injuries occurred along Interstate 20 at the state line from 2011 to 2013. Half were single-vehicle accidents, and six involved tractor-trailers. Crashes involved parked vehicles, deer, guardrails and median barriers.

The lone fatality during the span was in September 2011, when a Georgia truck driver was killed after his rig ran off the eastbound canal bridge and landed in the water.

A South Carolina truck driver ran off the same eastbound bridge in August 2012 but was able swim to shore after his truck landed in the canal.

The latest reported crash involving a tractor-trailer was a year ago, on June 27, when a 60-year-old truck driver traveling west rear-ended a stopped motorist, injuring four.

Way said he does not think the existing bridge conditions are problematic. He said the speed limit is 55 mph, the overpass has an average lane width of 14 feet and there is gradual-to-flat slope leading into the bridge. .

“There is not a definite cause as to why large trucks are leaving the roadway,” he said.

Way had not heard details on Thursday’s crash and said the causes of each of the three wrecks varied. One previous crash, he said, was health-related.

“One incident every now and then out of 51,000 vehicles traveled daily is not cause for alarm for motorists,” he said.

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CobaltGeorge
174916
Points
CobaltGeorge 06/26/14 - 06:11 am
4
2
What Is With This Bridge?

Didn't we have something like this a month or so ago?

pawahl
8
Points
pawahl 06/26/14 - 06:18 am
6
3
Unsafe Bridge

This bridge is unsafe for one very good reason. There is no room to get off of either lane, left or right, to avoid hitting someone or to pull off for flat tire or car problems.

DawgnSC69
287
Points
DawgnSC69 06/26/14 - 06:47 am
8
2
Canal and River Bridge

I thinks it time for ONE large bridge that passes over the canal and river. This bridge should also have an emergency lane.

I've experienced several close calls on these bridges myself. There is NO room for error.

KSL
143150
Points
KSL 06/26/14 - 07:27 am
10
1
Exit 201?

Exit 201?

bdouglas
5758
Points
bdouglas 06/26/14 - 08:05 am
12
1
If it comes out that the

If it comes out that the driver fell asleep and caused this, I think it's time we take another look at the fines and punishments towards companies who push their drivers to break the laws on drive time vs. rest time. At 4am it seems unlikely that traffic would've been a factor in this.

foxsilong
905
Points
foxsilong 06/26/14 - 10:24 pm
4
2
scheduled for 2016?

so we're going to have a bridge with a partially missing overpass for 2 years.......accidents already happening WITH overpass, and so what's it going to be like without it?

Privy
104
Points
Privy 06/26/14 - 09:15 am
3
2
Whoa

Suddenly we get all these tractor trailers going into the canal. Why?!

happychimer
19503
Points
happychimer 06/26/14 - 09:20 am
5
1
Drivers whose trucks are on

Drivers whose trucks are on GPS system can't drive more than allowed. The GPS log tells exactly when that truck rolls.

corgimom
38174
Points
corgimom 06/26/14 - 09:24 am
0
15
It's always been like that,

It's always been like that, those bridges are dangerous. This is nothing new.

jrsc429
408
Points
jrsc429 06/26/14 - 09:39 am
9
0
is it really the bridge?

Is it really the bridge that is dangerous? The guardrails should be of an improved (stronger) design and construction. The culprit are the drivers who are transitioning from one state to another (Georgia-South Carolina or vice versa) and they are treating the area on either side of the bridge much the same as race car drivers on the track transitioning from a caution flag (self explanatory) to a green flag (normal condition). Add to this the inattentiveness of some of the drivers, and you have a recipe for an accident. As for the driver being on the road too long, etc...let's wait until we know more. Just my opinion, as a 40 year resident of the area.

Dixieman
17201
Points
Dixieman 06/26/14 - 09:43 am
6
1
This is happening

way too often on this bridge. Probably could be fixed with some flashing lights to just make truck drivers pay attention and become alert. Too many drivers are dying or getting wet as a result and the traffic jams generated are horrendous.

Riverrunner30909
149
Points
Riverrunner30909 06/26/14 - 09:54 am
0
0
There is no exit 201.
Unpublished

There is no exit 201.

BamaMan
2675
Points
BamaMan 06/26/14 - 09:56 am
6
1
??

I just don't understand. Why is this such a hotspot for this? A bridge is a bridge. Are they thinking it's the exit for the rest stop maybe? Makes no sense for this to keep happening in that very spot.

Fiat_Lux
16411
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/26/14 - 10:08 am
3
3
This driver isn't being sought

The driver is still missing. Using "sought" makes it appear he's hoofed it, when it's more likely he has assumed ambient temperature.

jimmymac
47303
Points
jimmymac 06/26/14 - 10:24 am
1
0
BRIDGE
Unpublished

Although the road is narrow it still doesn't explain why late at night a truck would veer off a bridge? It's not an s shaped road and only requires someone to drive in their lane. He was either falling asleep or distracted. Maybe texting?

curly123053
5343
Points
curly123053 06/26/14 - 10:51 am
6
1
Sad

The main reason for accidents is the driver. The roads rarely cause the accidents as some will try to make you believe. Driving according to the conditions and driver attentiveness is a key thing. I'm interested in how long this driver had been on the road. Either way this is sad and I pray for the family.

AutumnLeaves
10224
Points
AutumnLeaves 06/26/14 - 12:52 pm
0
5
How can we look for someone

How can we look for someone without knowing what he looks like?

Young Fred
20528
Points
Young Fred 06/26/14 - 03:28 pm
1
2
Too many

have had accidents at the bridge, and I can't explain it. That bothers me! Some mentioned no room for error, etc., but that's the case for most all bridges.

Neither can I blame truck drivers thinking they're in a race, because most times I go through there (which is most every day, when I'm in town) the drivers are going extra-special slow, as are most drivers going through that couple miles of interstate.

Maybe it's time for Augusta/N Augusta or Richmond Cnty/Aiken Cnty to get together and act like they're a big city in the 21st century and build a real bridge fitting of a metro area the size of the CSRA.

abeecee
149
Points
abeecee 06/26/14 - 06:34 pm
2
8
SC won't spend $ to fix I-20 bridge

A major upgrade to bridges at I-20 Savannah River and Augusta Canal has been on the drawing boards for years. GA DOT has budgeted for their side of project, SC has not. Thanks Gov. Haley. I guess as long as the death and destruction is on the Georgia side, it's OK.

dichotomy
37323
Points
dichotomy 06/26/14 - 09:13 pm
1
1
I think the recent truck

I think the recent truck crashes have all been on the canal bridge and that is all GA....nothing to do with Haley. But yes, both bridges need to be widened and with a breakdown lane.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 06/27/14 - 03:07 am
1
1
Speed
Unpublished

Most vehicles are speeding after they pass riverwatch pkwy. because of the increase in speed once you cross into Carolina. The speed goes from 55 to 70 mph.

happychimer
19503
Points
happychimer 06/27/14 - 10:22 am
0
0
A few years back, a woman was

A few years back, a woman was killed on the I-20 Savannah River bridge. Her car broke down and she was hit and killed. There have been other accidents on that bridge. SC does not care. Look at their roads. In the 1970s they had very good roads. Look at them now.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/27/14 - 11:35 am
0
0
God bless
Unpublished

Cedric Miller's soul.

Sweet son
11488
Points
Sweet son 06/27/14 - 12:29 pm
0
0
Problem, we are spoiled! We are spoiled with wide roadways and

wide bridges and that is good. The river and canal bridges are in fact narrower than is common on most Interstate highways. When you approach them in daylight you can pick up on their width. But at night it's another story. Daylight or dark any you cut it they are too narrow and it is a nice thing to know that they will be replaced even if it will take until 2020 to finish the job.

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