Man killed in fiery crash

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) – One man is dead, following a fiery crash in Effingham County.

It happened Tuesday around 3pm on Sandhill Road.  A pickup and wrecker collided, knocking the pickup in a ditch, where it caught fire.  It's the seventh fatal crash in Effingham this year.

"[I] heard an explosion and came running out the front door. I heard people yelling call 911 and seen the pickup on fire," said Carla Hodge, who lives across the street.

Hodge said everyone was rushing toward the car with fire extinguishers trying to help the driver of the pickup, but it was too late. He didn't survive.

Deputies said the driver crossed over the centerline, and side swiped a tow truck, which was hauling a utility truck.

Hodge said it was a scary sight to see.  "Just seeing the debris everywhere, and the trucks on fire, and just all the different stuff, it just breaks your heart," said Hodge.

Hodge has lived on Sandhill Road all her life and says crashes like this are becoming all too common. "Thirty-three years ago you may have seen about six cars a day go by. Now it's like a race track."

Right now it's unclear why the driver crossed the line. Whatever the reason, Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said crashes like this one can be avoided if the sheriff's office had more help. "With a traffic unit we can stop accidents," McDuffie said.  "We're not going to go out and write a bunch of tickets, but we can stop people and make them pay attention to what they are doing."

In February, the Sheriff's office dedicated officers to a traffic unit, and had no fatal crashes that month.  But in order to continue with the traffic unit, the county has to get on board. It's something Sheriff McDuffie has been campaigning for all year, but now he's gaining support.

"They need to give funding to stuff that really matters, they truly do," said Hodges about the county getting on board. "It would help save lives and prevent accidents like this."

Just to put this in perspective, today only six deputies were working. There were two major crashes, both occurring around 3 p.m., which took up resources. Not to mention school was letting out, and all the other crimes that occurred in the county.

The body of the man will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah for an autopsy. The name of the victim won't be released until a positive identification is made and relatives are notified.

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