Family, Official Speak on Deadly Jasper County Wreck

Flowers mark the scene where six people died.
Flowers mark the scene where six people died.

Four teenagers and two adults are dead after a fiery crash Saturday night, but there are still no charges tonight. It happened on a notorious stretch of Highway 170 Alternate in Levy, in Jasper County, South Carolina.

Police say a Dodge pickup truck took a curve too fast and crashed into a Honda Accord. All four people in the car were killed, plus two teenage girls riding in the pickup.

South Carolina Highway Patrol says this could be a long investigation. Until they finish, no charges will be filed. But sadly tonight, family members say it may take even longer for them to get over it.

The highway alternate has a deadly reputation, but Maybank Mike never thought he would feel its wrath.

"It's a high fatality rate in this highway here," he said. "The family was just devastated."

Saturday night, his relative, 15-year-old Rhonda Webber, was one of the six people killed in the crash.

"It was too young for her," he said. "She didn't get to do anything in life."

Teddy bears and flowers have been placed among the wreck's remains. Maybank wants to see some changes.

"Widen the highway," he said, adding the speed limit should be dropped. "It's too fast. It should be lower."

"It's just nature," said Chief Doug Graham with the Levy Fire Department. "When people get on that road, they speed. And when they speed, they die.

Chief Graham was on the scene Saturday night. "This is really sad, probably the worst I have ever been too. I try to leave it, but I can't leave it. We had six people and four hadn't even started living."

Over the last 19 years, Chief Graham has been to about 50 accidents along the Highway 170 Alternate, many fatal. "I would be too scared to count them," he said. "My first one was on that road."

He's not so sure about changing the road. "The road doesn't hurt people. It's the drivers on the road."

He just hopes each accident serves as a wake-up call. "This is the worst accident I have been associated with, and I hope it's the last."

"We just have to go on," said Maybank. He and the rest of Rhonda Webber's family will be putting up a roadside memorial of their own, with two goals. "To remind us we did lose a loved one and to remind others on the highway, try to protect life in the future."

Maybank says Rhonda was an honor roll student at Jasper High and was on her way home from a function in Savannah Saturday night when they crashed.

Both survivors were in the pickup truck. One suffered minor burns. The other was the driver, Raymond Kelly. He was airlifted to Memorial Health, but there is no word on his condition.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com