GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) – On Thursday, three people were killed in an eight-vehicle crash on Interstate 85 in Gaffney Thursday afternoon, according to the Cherokee County Coroner's Office.
On Thursday, three people were killed in an eight-vehicle crash on Interstate 85 in Gaffney Thursday afternoon, according to the Cherokee County Coroner's Office.
According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Coroner’s Office, at approximately 2:50 p.m., the vehicles were part of a rear end, chain reaction collision that happened in the southbound, single lane “chute” constructed to divert traffic around the I-85 widening project near exit 90. Seven vehicles were all stopped in traffic when an 18-wheeler was the initial vehicle that started the rear end collision. As a result, three cars ended up in the northbound lane and six total people in several cars were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Coroner Dennis Fowler said 58-year-old Thomas Newman McElroy and his wife, 60-year-old Ruth Ann McElroy, were sadly pronounced dead at the scene. 60-year-old Karen Marie Goggin was airlifted to Spartanburg Medical Center where she later died in the emergency department.
Fowler made the following statement about the I-85 widening project:
“These chutes should be called death traps. While state officials have endorsed them at 2 separate public meetings in Gaffney, I disagree with their being safe for motorists. It seems none of those officials are around to ride with me to knock on the doors of next of kin to deliver the message a loved one has been killed in this maze of concrete. Something must be done immediately. We cannot lose any more lives at the sacrifice of a road project."
The South Carolina Department of Transportation mentioned in a statement:
"This [widening] project has been plagued by crashes throughout the work zone, including crashes like this one that involved tractor trailers that were traveling in lanes designated for passenger vehicles only. We will continue our efforts with law enforcement and local first responders to identify and implement additional measures designed to get motorists to slow down, pay attention and stay in the proper lanes."
This collision remains under investigation by SCDOT, SCHP, the MAIT Team and law enforcement as they work to gaining better understanding of what led to this tragic crash.
A petition asking for Governor Henry McMaster for immediate change to fix this area of I-85 in Gaffney has also been created.