Leaders wait for action on intersection

Flowers and crosses at the intersection of S.C. 9 and Lewisville High School Road mark where two elementary students were killed in a two-car wreck in March.
Flowers and crosses at the intersection of S.C. 9 and Lewisville High School Road mark where two elementary students were killed in a two-car wreck in March.

RICHBURG -- More than three months after Chester County leaders asked state transportation officials to create a school zone where two Lewisville Elementary School students died in a March wreck, they've heard nothing.

"Not the first response," County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said. "And we've written them twice ... we also sent them a copy of that petition."

The petition is a collection of documents signed by more than 3,200 people asking that the state Department of Transportation install school-zone signs and lower the speed limit in the area of S.C. 9 and Lewisville High School Road, the site of the March 26 wreck.

Two weeks ago, Councilman Brad Jordan brought the petition, which had been dropped off at his office, to Roddey, who then sent a second letter to the local DOT office last week.

Stan Bland, the head of the local DOT engineering department, was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment. Attempts over two days to reach another engineer were unsuccessful. State DOT spokesman Pete Poore could not be reached Wednesday.

In the months afterthe crash, local DOT officials told The Herald they were evaluating the situation and waiting on a report from the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Troopers have said 51-year-old George Rogers was heading west on S.C. 9 in Richburg when he ran a red light and slammed into a minivan at the Lewisville High School Road intersection just as school was getting out.

The crash killed 9-year-old Hannah Quinton and 7-year-old Nicholas Cherry. Hannah's mother, Alice, was driving the van. Hannah's 7-year-old brother, Timmy, and Nicholas' 5-year-old sister, Taylor, were passengers. Alice Quinton, Timmy Quinton and Taylor Cherry were flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. All have since been released.

Rogers was charged with two counts of reckless homicide. At a probable cause hearing last month, a member of the Highway Patrol's collision reconstruction team testified that a mechanical specialist found "numerous defects" with the logging truck, including problems with the brakes and tires.

He said the loaded 80,000-pound vehicle had 10 brakes, but only four were working at the time of the crash.

Troopers have said Rogers was not speeding, but county leaders and many residents want the speed limit in the area lowered to 35 mph.

Jordan, whose district includes the area where the wreck occurred, made the first motion in April to request the school zone.

If the county doesn't receive a response soon, Jordan said he'll try to get the item on the next council meeting's agenda so leaders can explore their options.

"We're following up on it," Jordan said. "We haven't let it die."

Plenty on board

The County Council isn't the only group asking for the school zone. Other agencies and boards have made similar requests, including the Chester County school board and the Fort Lawn Police Department.

Fort Lawn Police Chief Richard Smith sent a letter to the DOT asking for a school zone because he thought a police officer's opinion might illustrate the urgency of the situation.

Smith was at the scene on the day of the wreck and his department assists the Highway Patrol when needed.

"They need to do something," said Smith, who also hasn't received a response.

County leaders know the DOT might not make the change, but right now they're just looking for an answer.

"We're very, very, very adamant about asking for it," Roddey said. "I'd like to have somebody say 'yes' or 'no.'"