News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 28, 2013
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the 100 deadliest days of summer, and unfortunately, we earned that title in our area over the holiday weekend.
The CSRA saw five deadly accidents in just a few days, and the state of South Carolina saw its fatality numbers nearly double from last year.
It's those deadly stats that cause people like Carl Fields to use today as a travel day.
Fields, who is traveling back home to Louisville, says, "I don't like to drive on holiday weekend. I try to avoid that."
And he's not alone. Betty Wright decided against traveling over the holiday weekend, too.
"The traffic can be very heavy ... and we're elder people. We want to take our time and we just don't want to be in the clutter," she said.
But even though some choose to avoid the heavy traffic, AAA says about one million travelers hit the road over the long weekend between Georgia and South Carolina.
More people on the road often means more accidents, and this year proved deadly for our area.
"In South Carolina this year for the holiday weekend, we had 12 fatalities statewide," says Lance Cpl. Judd Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
That number is up 50 percent from the eight people killed in South Carolina last Memorial Day weekend.
"It's always discouraging because our goal was 'Target Zero' -- that's what we always strive for, zero fatalities, and unfortunately, we wound up with 12 for this holiday weekend," Jones said.
Out of that 12 in South Carolina, three of those deaths were in our area. A crash on Saturday in Aiken killed 19-year-old Ricky Hammonds. Deputies also say 54-year-old Heather Peele fell asleep at the wheel and crashed in McCormick County on Sunday. Then, yet another deadly accident on Monday on Mallard Court in Aiken killed 43-year-old Keith Bradberry.
In Georgia, holiday fatalities were down from the previous year. There were a total of eight fatal accidents across the state along with 490 crashes and 258 injuries.