CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — Highway 9 in rural western Chester County was shut down for nearly seven hours Monday as crews cleared a crash, described as one of the worst even firefighters had seen.
"It’s awful. Definitely a tragic day here in Chester County,” said west Chester Fire Chief Andy Martin.
Martin was one of the first on the scene at Highway 9 and Turnbuckle Road around 8 a.m. Monday. He found a log truck smashed, and a van on fire.
"It was fully engulfed. A massive fire. The driver was out of the van, and we found him later," Martin said.
State troopers said a Chevy work van crossed the center line in a curve and hit the log truck head on. The driver of the van was Jacky David Blalock Jr., 51, from Lancaster. Channel 9 was told he was a volunteer firefighter with the Gooche Station, which had recently gone inactive.
The log truck driver was Mike Davis, 62, of Clover. He's the father of Clover Police Office Tanner Davis. He was pinned in the truck, and it took crews more than two hours to remove his body.
The scene was widespread, as logs were strewn across the road, and the van Blalock was in burst into flames and burned up. Debris was everywhere, and diesel fuel spilled off the road down an embankment. South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control was called in, but it didn't appear any of it made it to a nearby creek.
There is so much debris, the Highway Patrol will shut down the road again from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday for hazmat clean up.
Firefighters and neighbors told Channel 9 they call the area "dead man's curve" due to past accidents.
Neighbor William Jeter said he's seen drivers swerve out of their lane before not paying attention.
"You got to be careful and make sure there's nobody coming down there on my side of the road," Jeter said.
However, late Monday, Department of Transportation engineers told Channel 9 that area doesn't stand out for bad accidents, and there are no plans to make safety improvements to the curve there.
Troopers have not said anything yet about the speed involved in the crash, or what may have caused the driver of the van to leave his lane of travel. There were several witnesses who stopped and gave statements to troopers.
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Cox Media Group