Police and emergency crews have been demanding safety fixes on a deadly portion of I-95, since there have been multiple fatal crashes in the stretch from Hardeeville to Ridgeland where there are trees in the median.
There were two crashes this week, one killing 52-year-old Sharon Toomer, a Hardeeville Elementary School employee.
Now, the founder of a community group, the Concerned Citizens of Jasper County, is speaking out for safety fixes.
When Charles Mitchell hears the phrase ‘coffin corridor’ as some refer to the area of I-95 in Jasper County from about mile 8 to 16, he is disturbed.
“That bothers me. That seriously bothers me, and so I want to do, or we want to do anything we can to take that name or that label off of us,” Mitchell says.
“Whether it’s for us locally or those passing through our community, we want them to know that we’re doing everything we can in Jasper County to make Jasper County a safer place for everyone to come,” he says.
For about a year, Hardeeville Police Chief Sam Woodward, Jasper County Emergency Management Director Wilbur Daley, and Jasper County Administrator Andrew Fulghum have been appealing to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) for help clearing trees. Woodward says the DOT engineers are listening; it’s just a matter of funding the removal of trees from those eight miles.
Mitchell believes there can be other things done to add safety. He is hoping for community input, too.
“We want to add more power and strength behind that and find out exactly where are [DOT engineers] in their negotiations on that,” he says.
Mitchell suggests leaving some trees, in order to stop semi-trucks when running off the road, adding guard rail to thinned trees, or widening the road.
“But what can we do right now to help lessen the fatalities on the I-95 corridor?” he asks.
Mitchell is trying to coordinate a community meeting, with emergency officials and DOT engineers, in the next few weeks.