Interstate wreck strands travelers

A view from the bridge shows vehicle damage Wednesday morning.

A five-vehicle pile-up brought traffic to a halt on Interstate 20 at the Savannah River bridge for two hours Wednesday morning.

 

Stranded motorists got out of their vehicles and walked around after the 10 a.m. accident closed down all eastbound traffic.

"It puts the holiday in perspective," said one of them, Elizabeth Henning, of Graniteville.

She said she was thankful she was OK, and hoped all the travelers stalled on the bridge could get home to their families.

Lt. Tim Pearson, a spokesman for North Augusta Public Safety, said a wheelbarrow fell out of one of the vehicles and started "the chain of events."

Deputies from Richmond County Sheriff's Office worked to divert traffic that had stalled past the Washington Road exit and blocked on-ramps from Bobby Jones Expressway to the state line.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was called to the scene after emergency first responders noticed a tractor-trailer involved in the accident was leaking diesel fuel.

Spokesman Adam Myrick estimated 50 gallons of fuel spilled from the truck's side saddle tanks.

He was unsure how much of the leaked fuel fell into the Savannah River.

"It's not really a large amount," Myrick said of the leaked fuel. "We've certainly seen spills after wrecks that are much larger."

The trucking company, which has not been identified, will send out its contractor to clean up the fuel. DHEC's role is to observe the process and make sure it's done "as environmentally friendly and safely as it can," Myrick said.

One lane of traffic was opened shortly after 12:20 p.m., with all lanes not opening until one hour later, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Reach Bianca Cain and Charmain Brackett at (706) 724-0851.