Deadly crash renews drive to cut trees from I-95 median


A deadly crash in Hardeeville on I-95 on Monday brings a renewed effort for safety improvements along the stretch known by some as ‘coffin corridor.’ Emergency crews say North Carolina man, 75-year-old John Matthew Eddins, drove off the left side of I-95 northbound at mile-marker 13 at 7:12 a.m.

Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls says trees were likely not a factor in this latest fatality, but other still hope the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) can still clear trees in the median of I-95 through Hardeeville city limits.

“We see a tremendous amount of accidents on 95, and you know a lot of them are serious accidents,” Emergency Services Director Wilbur Daley says.

“It’s really a big concern right now. I think there are a lot of things going on that are just dealing with the amount of accidents we have on that stretch,” Daley says.

For months now, Hardeeville Police Chief Sam Woodward has called for the DOT to make the median tree-free. The DOT now says this may be a possibility.

Woodward and Daley both hope the DOT can install cable, or barrier wire, where the trees now stand.

“You know, when [drivers] run off the road, those trees don’t move,” Daley says, “and that’s a big factor in the amount of trauma that we have on the interstate. The cable system has really improved a lot in the areas the cabling has been installed on areas of I-95, and it’s saved a lot people’s lives.”

DOT engineer Joy Riley is currently working on another project, interstate rehabilitation in the Ridgeland areas of I-95 from miles 23-33. She says trees could come down in this area, but funds would not be available to pay for the project until 2017.

Riley says there could be some funding through a DOT safety fund to get the trees down along the Hardeeville stretch of interstate, but NEWS 3 has had phone calls unreturned by the project manager.

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