A “horrific” head-on crash between a logging truck and a van at ‘Deadman’s Curve’ west of Chester Monday left both drivers dead in a fiery crash scene that emergency officials said was the worst they had ever seen.
The van crossed over the center line in the middle of the sweeping curve and crashed into the truck just before 8 a.m., authorities said. Both Ed Darby of Chester County Emergency Management and Andy Martin, West Chester Volunteer Fire Department chief, said the wreck scene on S.C. 9 about 10 miles west of Chester was as “horrible” as any they had ever seen.
“It was a horrific scene – I have been here 43 years and it’s as bad as any I’ve seen,” Martin said. “It’s a very tragic morning here in Chester, South Carolina.”
The driver of the van was identified as Jacky David Blalock Jr., 51, of Lancaster, said Terry Tinker, Chester County coroner. The driver of the logging truck was Clyde Mike Davis, 62, of Clover.
Davis is the father of Lt. Tanner Davis of the Clover Police Department, said Randy Grice, Clover police chief.
The speed limit is 55 mph where the crash happened but Martin said that it is a “very dangerous curve” where “numerous fatalities” have happened over the years. The van was on fire when firefighters arrived but the driver had been ejected from the van and was found nearby.
Darby called the crash site, “just terrible,” and said that it took emergency crews about three hours to finally get the second victim out of the wreckage of the logging truck.
Tools from the van were scattered around the crash site. The impact was so severe that the axles of the logging truck were ripped from the cab.
Part of S.C. 9 was closed for almost eight hours and traffic detoured around the site as the road was cleaned up.
The crash site was so bad and the fire so hot that a Bobcat had to be brought in to clean the debris from the highway. Logs thrown from the truck were strewn across the highway and the force of the impact knocked the many-ton truck and cab into a ditch along the side of the road.
The road will be closed again from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday for hazmat cleaning. Hazmat crews were on site Monday but it was not believed that any leaks from the vehicles would cause any watershed problems, said Darby.
The stretch of road near Turn Buckle Road is a sweeping curve that is part of a major logging route with trucks bearing raw materials from western parts of the state bound for wood products manufacturers in Chester, Martin said.
“There have been so many deaths out here that as long as I have been here people have called it Deadman’s Curve,” Martin said.
In 2014 on Valentine’s Day, a truck went off the road in an ice storm at about the same part of the curve, leading to an incident between firefighters and deputies over closing the road.
The crash came on the heels of a deadly weekend in South Carolina when 12 people died in state roads in crashes.
Logging trucks have been involved in several fatalities in York and Chester counties over the years. York County had a fatal head-on crash with a logging truck in August. In 2007, two children died and three people were injured in a Chester County crash on S.C. 9 in front of Lewisville Elementary School.
And four years ago – almost to the day, March 8, 2012 – a 90-year-old man was killed on S.C. 9 in Chester when he pulled out in front of a logging truck.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065