Driver Charged in Fatal Diamond Causeway Wreck

Emergency workers clearing yesterday's wreck.
Emergency workers clearing yesterday's wreck.

One man is dead after a truck flipped over and landed on top of a car, but the driver of neither of those vehicles was to blame. Police say it happened after another driver made an illegal turn at the base of the Moon River Bridge on the Diamond Causeway yesterday.

Police say 61-year-old Lot Saengthong ignored the sign and made a left-hand turn. His mistake caused two other cars to collide. Sam Mavrikis, 84, died.

People who live and work there say this is another example of how dangerous this road really is.

Wednesday afternoon, the Diamond Causeway turned into a parking lot while emergency crews spent four hours trying to save three lives.

Liz Bowens saw the aftermath. She owns Bandy's Bait Shop down the road and was on her way home when the accident happened. "It took me 2 1/2 hours to go nine blocks," she told us.

She's not surprised. She believes the Diamond Causeway is dangerous. "Very dangerous."

And she says, from U-turns to speeding, there's always an accident waiting to happen. "Very few people go 55. And if you do, they are right on your tail trying to go around."

"Typically, I would not say Diamond Causeway is a dangerous road to travel," said Savannah-Chatham police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson.

Sgt. Wilson says traffic jams are common, but accidents aren't.

Both lanes of the causeway were jammed while people were pulled from the wreckage. One man died, two others survived. Thousands waited, and the person police say is responsible drove away.

"He heard the collision, went to the boat ramp, and proceeded to go fishing," said Wilson.

He says in this case, traffic was unavoidable. And understandable. "In some instances, we are just going to have to be patient."

It's almost a no-win situation.

Liz Bowens would like to see the speed limit dropped and more police patrols. "We need something to happen on the Diamond Causeway," she said.

Police are still investigating the crash, and more charges could be filed against Lot Saengthong, including vehicular homicide. He's already facing an illegal left turn charge.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com