Fatal wreck on I-26 keeps traffic at standstill for six hours - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fatal wreck on I-26 keeps traffic at standstill for six hours

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I-26 accident (Source: WYFF) I-26 accident (Source: WYFF)
I-26 accident (Source: WYFF) I-26 accident (Source: WYFF)
I-26 accident (Source: WYFF) I-26 accident (Source: WYFF)

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

NEWBERRY, SC (WIS) - Hundreds of people woke up in the Midlands Monday morning after not getting much sleep the night before. The drivers had been stuck in traffic for nearly six hours after a deadly accident Sunday night in Newberry County.

Doug Adams sat in a car on Interstate 26 for hours on Sunday. "I had my mom, my 4-year-old niece with me," said Adams, who does statistics for Gamecock Radio. "They usually travel with me to away games."

Adams left Nashville on Sunday, took this photo with his niece and hit long road home. "I left Nashville about 11:00 yesterday morning and I walked into my apartment in northeast Columbia about 12:30 last night," said Adams, who made it from Columbia to Nashville in only eight hours.

"I'm a very patient guy," said Adams. "After the first hour, it was really getting tough, though."

I-26 was shut down for nearly six hours after troopers say a car heading westbound crossed over a cable barrier and hit the driver of a Lexus head-on.

Newberry County Deputy Coroner John Pollard identified the victim as 30-year-old Amber Dale Conatser of Wilmington, NC, who died at the scene. Pollard said Conatser was wearing a seatbelt. The male passenger was airlifted to the hospital, but there's no word on his condition.

Three people in the Crown Victoria were taken to the hospital. Their conditions have not been released.

Troopers reopened the eastbound lanes of Interstate 26 between mile marker 66 and mile marker 72 around 11:00pm Sunday, after keeping the interstate closed for nearly seven hours to reconstruct the accident.

"There was probably like 20-30 people sitting on their cars at rest stops just looking at traffic," said Adams. "My mom was on the phone, my niece was sleeping."

There was a similar story just two weeks ago, down I-26 in Calhoun County, when a tractor trailer and minivan crossed through a cable barrier and caused a cleanup that took most of the day.

Troopers say there's a balance between thoroughly investigating and reopening lanes so people can get home. They say reopening lanes is important, but getting answers is too -- even if it does cause some people to lose a little sleep.

"Tonight's probably gonna be a very early night for me," said Adams.

Troopers say despite the on-scene investigation, they're still not sure why the driver crossed the road. The accident is still under investigation, and it is unclear if any charges will be filed.

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