Fatal wrong-way collision becomes second on I-20 in less than a year

Fatal wrong-way collision becomes second on I-20 in less than a year

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A 2015 Nissan Altima was destroyed and a truck's trailer was ripped open after the two collided early Monday morning.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Lexington County Coroner's Office said the crash ejected 38-year-old Jamie Elliott Watson from his car.

"The tractor-trailer caught fire and, because of that, we had the interstate shut down for several hours and it interrupted a lot of early morning commuters as you know," said SCHP Lance Corporal David Jones.

The truck driver walked away from the crash without serious injury. As for Watson, it's unclear how the Lexington man ended up traveling west in the eastbound lanes.

"We know that this vehicle was traveling the wrong direction," said L. Cpl. Jones. "Not only do we have witnesses but with the evidence at the scene we know that it was traveling the wrong way but again, what led up to the crash, where this person got on the interstate at, why they got on the interstate the wrong way is still under investigation."

At this point, it isn't clear if alcohol was a factor.

The National Transportation Safety Board said seven of 10 fatal wrong-way collisions are alcohol-related.

This crash is the second fatal wrong-way accident on that stretch of westbound I-20 in less than a year. In August 2016, a 27-year-old Lexington woman driving under the influence ran head-on into a car driven by a man from Decatur, Ga. Both drivers died in that accident, which was about a mile from Monday's crash.

Nationally, South Carolina ranks in the middle of the state when it comes to wrong-way crash fatalities. Some high fatality states, like California and Florida, have lowered their wrong-way signs to make them more visible.

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