One Dead in Diamond Causeway Wreck - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/31/05

One Dead in Diamond Causeway Wreck

A car was trapped under a truck. A car was trapped under a truck.

Thousands of people were stuck in traffic for hours last night. A horrible accident tied up traffic along the Diamond Causeway during rush hour. The lanes were backed up some three miles from the scene. At least one person is dead.

A delivery truck driven by Jody Cauly, 44, swerved to avoid a stopped car and ended up flipping over into oncoming traffic, landing on a car driven by Sherry Freeman, 49. It had the only access into the Landings shut down completely for several hours.

Police say the accident started when a pickup truck stopped to take an illegal left turn in an area where traffic normally moves along at 55 miles per hour or more.

"The large truck took some evasive action to avoid colliding into two vehicles that had stopped in front of him," said SCMPD spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson. "In doing so he lost control."

Drivers in the rush hour traffic say it looked bad immediately. The delivery truck ended up coming to rest on top of a car heading the other way.

"The truck was flying up in the air," said Savannah resident Scott Scheib. "I did see that. I didn't see who hit who, but the truck was flipped up and flying through the air and just landed on the other car."

When emergency crews arrived, they ended up shutting down the road completely, snarling traffic in both directions for hours.

The reason traffic was backed up so badly for so long is because the accident happened right at the end of the bridge over the Moon River, where there's not even an emergency lane to route traffic around.

After a couple hours, police opened one lane up, but since traffic had backed up all the way to Montgomery Cross Road, it took a long time for people to get through.

At this point, the passenger from the car, Sam Mavrikis, 84, is the only fatality. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the pickup truck which caused the accident was 61-year-old Lot Saengthong. He could be facing a second-degree vehicular homicide charge, which is a misdemeanor.

Police say he kept driving after the accident, then parked and started fishing, without reporting the accident or trying to help.

The driver of the car, Sherry Freeman, rushed to Memorial Health and into surgery.

The driver of the truck, Jody Cauley, was also taken to Memorial, where he was treated and released.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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