Reporter witnesses 2 Rock Hill crashes in 4 hours while working on intersection safety story

Rock Hill Police on scene of the two-car accident on Constitution Boulevard on Monday afternoon.
Rock Hill Police on scene of the two-car accident on Constitution Boulevard on Monday afternoon. adouglas@heraldonline.com

I started to feel like a driver’s bad luck charm on Monday after witnessing two wrecks unfold right in front of me in the span of four hours in Rock Hill.

Coincidentally, I’ve been working on a long-term reporting project for The Herald about intersection dangers and traffic volume on some of York County’s busiest roads.

Fortunately, in both car accidents Monday, the drivers and passengers walked away without serious injuries.

The first crash happened just before 9 a.m. as I was on my way to the newsroom. A driver making a left turn from White Street onto Dave Lyle Boulevard hit a 22-year-old woman’s car head-on in the middle of the intersection. The woman’s car came to a stop in the middle of the road, but the other driver continued into oncoming traffic after crossing the raised median on Dave Lyle.

I hit my brakes quickly to avoid being hit as he drove the wrong way, and then I put my car in park to check on the other driver. Her airbag had deployed, she was pretty shook up, and she had some minor, bloody injuries to her arms.

Another driver nearby signaled she would call 911. Rock Hill Police and EMS arrived shortly after.

Almost four hours later, around 1 p.m., I was standing on the sidewalk at the intersection of Constitution Boulevard and Herlong Avenue – one of Rock Hill’s busiest junctions. I was taking video and photos of traffic for my upcoming news project about the county’s busiest roads.

I’d taken a few short videos and six pictures, when I heard tires squeal and then a crash as two cars collided.

My jaw dropped as I realized the remarkable coincidence of witnessing a car wreck while on an assignment to take pictures of dangerous and crowded intersections.

A picture I took just seconds before the crash on Monday afternoon shows one of the drivers entering the intersection after the traffic light turned red. Again, Rock Hill Police officers arrived quickly after I called 911 and, this time, gave me a summons to be a witness in court.

With nearly 23,000 cars passing through daily, the Constitution Boulevard/Herlong Avenue intersection is the eighth-busiest in Rock Hill and the 13th-busiest in the county, according to state Department of Transportation data. It’s also a hot spot for reckless and careless driving, Rock Hill Police statistics from last year show.

The Herald’s upcoming news project about intersections will include a list of the 15 busiest junctions across the county. Many of the busiest intersections also are plagued by congestion and frequent fender benders.

The scene of Monday morning’s wreck – Dave Lyle Boulevard at White Street – doesn’t crack the list. But, Rock Hill Police statistics show the intersection is prone to reckless driving incidents. About 20,000 cars pass through daily.

As part of The Herald’s project looking at traffic woes, we invite readers to contact us with their own stories about driving through some of the worst intersections.

I’m also interested in sharing a few commuters’ personal stories by riding along with drivers briefly as they navigate the busiest roads in Rock Hill and Fort Mill. So, please contact me if you don’t think I’m bad luck.