One dead as RV burns

A dramatic photograph shows firefighters from Colleton County Fire Rescue put out a fire that consumed a motorhome in a wooded median on Interstate 95 in Walterboro, South Carolina, on 29 March 2018. 

Callers reported a motorhome had crashed in the median and was on fire. Colleton Fire-Rescue units arrived quickly and found the motorhome fully involved and an approx. ½ acre woods fire in the median. N

The northbound motorhome left the roadway at a high rate of speed and struck several trees. The vehicle suffered heavy damage and the large Volvo cab was turned 90 degrees on the frame. A passerby, Timothy Hunley from NC, stopped and pulled an injured 40 year old woman from the burning vehicle, saving her life. The woman’s husband, who was the driver, was missing. Firefighter-Paramedics began treating the woman, who suffered multiple life threatening injuries in addition to receiving 30-40% third degree burns. The man who pulled her out of the vehicle also received burns, but he denied transportation to the hospital. Firefighter-Paramedics deployed multiple handlines to combat the fire from the northbound lanes and searched the area for the missing driver. Several LP tanks exploded, sending debris flying in both directions. As a safety measure the southbound lanes of I-95 were closed as well until the fire was knocked down. Fire apparatus was also positioned on the southbound side to assist in extinguishing the vehicle and woods fires. Water for the firefighting effort was provided with Tenders who shuttled water to the scene.

The C.A.R.E. Flight medical helicopter was called to the scene. They landed on I-95 north of the accident. The Tampa FL woman was transferred to the flight crew, then flown in critical condition to the Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta Georgia. Crews worked for about 25 minutes to bring the fire under control and continued to extinguish hot spots for several hours. After about 35 minutes, units on the southbound side were moved to the northbound side to allow southbound traffic to move freely, however it was backed up over 5 miles. Both northbound lanes remained blocked for 1-1/2 hours. One lane was reopened around 21:00. Most traffic was using the McLeod Road exit to get off of the Interstate and detour to Jefferies Hwy. (US Hwy 15). Even with one northbound lane open, traffic continued to back up about six miles south of the accident.

Once the fire was extinguished, Firefighter-Paramedics located the driver’s body in the mangled cab. He was trapped in the wreckage and severely burned. The Coroner’s Office was notified and responded to the scene. After their investigation was completed, crews removed him from the wreckage and the Coroner’s Office transported his body.

The SC Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.