Wrecks Tie Up Traffic on Interstate 16

I-16 from the WTOC SkyCam just before 5pm.
I-16 from the WTOC SkyCam just before 5pm.
At least two law officers were involved in separate wrecks.
At least two law officers were involved in separate wrecks.

Yesterday's storms had hundreds if not thousands of people at a standstill on one of Savannah's most popular interstates. Chain reaction accidents on I-16 snarled traffic all the way to downtown, right when most everyone was  trying to get home from work.

There was a downpour that hit the area pretty quickly and wreaked havoc with the number of cars packed onto I-16 at the same time. The stretch between I-95 and Dean Forrest Road was literally littered with wrecks.

"There must be five or six accidents here," said witness Bill Hornish of Statesboro.

And that guess was low-balling it. The total number ended up being seven, with at least seven people sent to the hospital.

"The longer we were out here we seemed to notice everyone else had the same problem," said Scott Montgomery of Claxton.

The problem included two different law enforcement officers. A Georgia State Patrol officer was hit from behind, and just a little up the road, Pooler Police sergeant John Schmidt was as well.

"All of a sudden I look in my rear-view mirror and I saw this transfer truck jack knife," recalled Albert Barnett of Guyton. "And his trailer hit the officer's car. Drove his car into my car."

A lot of the people stuck in the middle say some rough weather is probably the biggest reason every thing happened so quickly. "It was pouring," Hornish told us. "You couldn't see."

"I was telling him, any time we're in Savannah and it's raining, be careful," said Montgomery.

Once the first accident started the chain reaction, drivers say it was hard to keep an eye on all the other cars and still keep control of their own.

"Especially around I 95," said Barnett. "It gets really backed up around here, so you just do the best you can and try to watch the other people. All you can do."

Sgt. Schmidt with the Pooler police was released from the hospital. The state patrol isn't releasing the name of their officer who was injured.

Traffic was tied up in the westbound lanes for almost two hours.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com