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Traffic fatalities climb in Lancaster County

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By Greg Summers

The overall number of traffic-related fatalities for South Carolina is slightly down from the previous year, but the same can’t be said for Lancaster County.

According to a report issued by the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) on Sept. 21, 526  people have died on South Carolina highways, compared to 550 highway deaths during the same time period in 2013.

In Lancaster County during the same time period, 10 people have died, compared to four in 2013. That is a 150 percent increase.

The 2014 numbers are preliminary and based on fatal collision data compiled by SCDPS between Jan. 1 and midnight Sept. 21. So far the S.C. Highway Patrol has investigated 447 of the 526 traffic fatalities this year. 

S.C. Highway Patrol Capt. Bobby Albert, commander of Troop 4 (Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Lancaster and York counties), said the agency was involved in the investigation of 8 of the 10 fatalities. Two of the traffic deaths were in the Lancaster city limits. 

“Last year, was just an exceptional year for Lancaster County in regards to a reduction in traffic fatalities,” Albert said. “If you look back and the five year average, the 2014 number holds true to previous data. The county in Troop 4 where its really out of whack is Chester County and we have taken measures to address that.”

Since January 2011, 31 people have died on Chester County roadways. In early September, the S.C. Highway Patrol  was forming a multi-jurisdictional task force with the Chester County Sheriff Office, and Chester and Fort Lawn police departments, to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in Chester County. The task force is focusing on DUI, speeding and seat belt violations.

Common threads

In breaking down the 2013 data to determine common factors for traffic fatalities here, Albert found three.

“Of the eight fatalities we have investigated, four of them were DUI related,” he said. “The other four fatalities involved speeding or driving too fast for conditions.” 

On a positive note, Albert said overall seatbelt usage in Lancaster County has improved.

“Of the six vehicle crashes, three had seatbelts on and three did not,” he said. “In the other two, seatbelt usage doesn’t apply because one was a motorcycle and one was a moped. However, in those two, neither was wearing a helmet.”

Albert said in the upcoming weeks drivers here should notice a boosted trooper presence on county roads in an effort to address seatbelt usage and speeding.

“That seems to be the common factors in most of the fatalities and we are putting an additional trooper to float into Lancaster County,” he said.

“We would rather take steps to prevent fatalities rather than make enforcement measures and investigate them,” Albert said. “One of the best methods for prevention is raising public awareness levels so drivers know what’s happening on our roadways.”   

Lancaster County traffic fatalities (Jan.1 – Sept. 21)  

• Feb. 24 – Larry Sims, 60, of Kershaw, was killed in a two car crash on Flat Creek Road (S.C. 903). He was not wearing a seatbelt. 

• March 17 – Anthony Steven Albert, 19, was killed in a one-car accident on Potter Road near Kendlewood Drive. According to the SCHP, Albert ran off the right side of the road, struck a utility pole and a tree. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

• March 17 – Calvin McIlwain, 60, who was riding a mo-ped, was struck by a car at the intersection of South Market and Gay streets. McIlwain died from his injuries March 24 (city of Lancaster).

• April 13 – Jeremy Peay, 34, was struck by a car in the 300 block of Rutledge Street (city of Lancaster).

• May 2 –  Derek Eugene Boone, 42, of Catawba, was injured in a crash on Waxhaw Highway (S.C. 75). Boone died May 5.

• May 11 – Westley Phillips, 26, of Kershaw, died in a one-car crash on McIlwain Road. According to the SCHP, Phillips drove off the right side of the road and overcorrected. His car then veered across to the left side of the road where it struck a power pole and a bridge abutment. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

• May 11 – Donald Poston, 52, was killed in a mo-ped accident on Pink Plyler Road when he was rear-ended by a car. He was not wearing a helmet.

• June 13 – Billy Joe Parks, 63, of Great Falls, died after crashing his motorcycle on Cedar Creek Road (S.C. 97). According to the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office, Parks ran off the left side of the road, went down an embankment and was thrown off his Harley Davidson. He was not wearing a helmet.

• Aug. 15 – Justice Jackson-Pope, 5, was injured in a single-car crash on Green Road. A back-seat passenger, Justice died Aug. 16 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

• Sept. 12 – Kristona Adams, 27, of Lugoff, was killed in a one-car crash on Kershaw Camden Highway (U.S. 521) about 1 mile east of Heath Springs. According to the SCHP, Adams ran off the right side of the road, struck some railroad tracks and overturned into a tree. 

 

Contact copy editor Greg Summers  at (803) 283-1156