Two people were killed and several others transported to hospitals after a fiery six-vehicle crash that shut down Interstate 77 in Chester County for several hours Thursday.
Three commercial trucks and three other vehicles were involved in the crash, which happened around 3:15 p.m., according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. The crash scene was at mile marker 68, just south of York County.
Emergency officials said two people were killed. Five medical helicopters and multiple ambulances transported the injured to hospitals, according to Eddie Murphy, director of Chester County Emergency Management. Four people were flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and one was flown to a hospital in Columbia. Their conditions were not available late Thursday.
All lanes of I-77 were shut down after the crash. The northbound lanes reopened around 8 p.m., and the southbound lanes reopened later Thursday, according to Lance Cpl. Gary Miller of the Highway Patrol.
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The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
The identities of the two people killed will be released by the Chester County Coroner’s Office once the families have been notified.
“I’ve never seen anything on the interstate look like this with this many fire trucks, this many ambulances,” Coroner Terry Tinker said. “It was just like a war zone.”
Two people walked away from the crash, according to Tinker. “They were lucky,” he said.
Murphy said there were 14 people in all six vehicles, but he couldn’t comment on the extent of any injuries. Among those who were transported to hospitals from the crash, according to Tinker and Murphy, were a mother and her baby.
Murphy described the scene as “mayhem,” with wreckage strewn everywhere and fires in the woods next to the roadway.
Along with multiple fire departments from Chester County, York County sent crews from two fire departments and four units from Piedmont EMS to the crash scene. Emergency management personnel from both counties also responded.
“It was traumatic, but everybody worked through it,” Murphy said. “Everybody did their own individual area.”
Traffic was so backed up that drivers stuck on the interstate in miles-long traffic were turning around through the median to exit the highway. Traffic on nearby S.C. 901 and other roads was also described as “severe” by officials. Northbound drivers were urged by troopers to exit the Interstate at Exit 65 and use S.C. 901 or U.S.21 back to I-77 in York County.
Southbound drivers were asked to exit I-77 at Exit 73 in York County, then take S.C. 901 south to S.C. 9 back to I-77 at Exit 65.
Officers from the York County Sheriff’s Office, the Rock Hill Police Department, the Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation are helping to reroute traffic through Rock Hill and York County.
The S.C. Department of Transportation said on Twitter that they were anticipating pavement damage and had crews and equipment on standby; however, Miller said repairs likely would not be necessary.
- The Herald’s news partner WSOC-TV contributed