A Myrtle Beach vacation came to a tragic end for a Pennsylvania family Saturday morning when the SUV they were driving crashed at the U.S. 52-Interstate 74 interchange in Surry County, killing one passenger and severely injuring another member of the family.
The wreck occurred around 10:30 a.m. when the four-door SUV veered off of the road and hit a guardrail while traveling north on U.S. 52 where it splits with I-74 West. The guardrail smashed through the vehicle, penetrating inside and pinning two people, according to EMS officials at the scene.
The family was traveling home to Pennsylvania from a vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when the driver — a male — apparently veered off the road into the guard rail. Initial reports indicated the driver was a man in his 70s, but later information released by EMS officials showed that not to be the case, although officials have not yet released the names nor ages of those involved.
“Right now, we speculate that he fell asleep at the wheel,” said John Shelton, Surry County Emergency Services director, of the man driving..
The driver’s father-in law, the passenger in the front seat, was pronounced dead on the scene, at 11:12 a.m. The female passenger in the back seat on the right hand side was pinned in the vehicle. After being extricated from the wreck, she was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Her condition is critical according to Shelton.
The driver and his wife, the passenger in the back seat directly behind him, suffered no major injuries. There were also two children in the vehicle, both of whom are okay, according to Shelton.
The wreck and subsequent clean-up closed both northbound lanes of U.S. 52 for hours, backing traffic up there more than five miles at times.
Sgt. Mitch Whitener with the North Carolina Highway Patrol was the first on scene of the accident, James Atkins is the active investigative trooper. Two AirCare helicopters were dispatched to the scene, along with Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department, Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire department, and Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain rescue squads.
Additional details will be reported as they become available.
Reach Eva Queen at (336)415-4739 or [email protected]