2 fatal collision survivors remain critical
By CLIF LEBLANC - email@example.com
The man who died in a three-car accident Monday near West Columbia has been identified as Billy Joe Thomas, 23, of Gaston, authorities said. Two of his passengers remain in critical condition today.
Thomas died at 1:50 p.m. in Lexington Medical Center about and hour after the 12:35 p.m. wreck at Augusta Road and Pinecrest Avenue near West Columbia, Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman said today. The results of an autopsy were to be released later in the day.
The state Highway Patrol is investigating through its accident reconstruction team, which means the findings might take weeks.
But an initial report from trooper Billy Elder and the coroner’s office found that the 2004 silver Ford F-150 Thomas was driving struck a 1999 Chevrolet pickup driven by James Liberty, 37, of West Columbia. Liberty was pulling from a driveway on the property of a Lowe’s home-repair store.
The impact forced Ford’s truck into an oncoming lane where it hit a 2007 10-wheel flatbed truck driven by Jerome Cole, 44, of Columbia, Elder said.
No one in the Ford was wearing seat belts, the patrol said. Thomas was trapped, as was passenger Travis Berry, 23. Another passenger, Kendall Shisler, 19, was thrown from the pickup, Elder said. Berry and Shisler have the same address, an apartment in the town of Lexington.
The crash occurred during the lunch rush hour in a busy commercial area between West Columbia and Sprindale. It knotted traffic for several blocks near the Lowe’s store.
Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.