Two separate wrecks involving a total of seven vehicles created a massive traffic headache Friday night on an already congested section of southbound Interstate 95 in Richmond Hill.
According to the Georgia State Patrol, the first wreck occurred when two vehicles collided just before exit 87, Highway 17, after one vehicle made an improper lane change. GSP Trooper Dan Chernich said the call came in at 6:37 p.m., and he arrived on the scene at 7:18 p.m.
Two people were transported for medical treatment from this crash. Chernich said the injuries were non-life-threatening.
The second wreck occurred as a result of the first one, according to the GSP. Five vehicles were involved in this incident, and nobody was transported for treatment.
One of the drivers in the second wreck was Phillip Zaner, who was driving from Savannah with his niece on a trip to Orlando, Florida, to spend a weekend at University Studios Orlando.
Zaner said that as he was driving over an incline approaching exit 87, traffic was congested. He described cars stopped in the shoulder and halfway into the right lane of I-95, much as is usually the case during evening rush hour at that exit.
“There was a car in front of me that did a hard left swerve, never hit his brakes,” he said. “He never had time to hit his brakes. He was just lucky enough not to hit the car that was in front of him. Unfortunately, by the time I saw traffic stopped in front of him, it was a little too late. I applied my brakes and, unfortunately, I hit another truck in front of me.”
Zaner said in that split second as he was applying the brakes, he was trying to minimize the inevitable impact with other vehicles.
“I tried to swerve, but I see a lot of cars … on the left,” he said. “The best thing you can do is, you know you’re going to have an impact and try to choose the least amount of impact as possible. And I barely clipped him with my front side, unfortunately, but I’m just glad everybody was able to go and walk about away from this.
About 9:20 p.m., a Richmond Hill police officer said lanes were about to be opened as wrecked vehicles were being towed away and debris was being cleaned up. Until then, only the left shoulder was open to traffic southbound. Chernich said all lanes were open at 10:03 p.m.