MYRTLE BEACH — A specialized team of S.C. Highway Patrol troopers are busy conducting investigations into five fatal crashes that happened in Horry and Georgetown counties within the last 10 days.
All the crashes remain under investigation, and no new details were available as of Friday, said Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins with the Highway Patrol.
The Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team examines every fatal crash in the area and issues a report based on its findings.
“When you do have several fatalities it does increase their workload, it may make the timeline a little longer,” Collins said. “We certainly don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed when it comes to those investigations. You are talking about someone who lost their life.
“When they do these investigations they have to be thorough. When this is over we want to make sure we can give all the answers to questions [those involved in the crashes] have … we want to make sure it is right when it is submitted.”
Troopers receive specialized training to be a part of the team, Collins said. There are several teams across the state, but the one that handles the Grand Strand is based in Florence and covers the Pee Dee region.
Since July 12, troopers have responded to five fatal crashes in the area.
“It’s not uncommon to see a rash of fatalities in a small time on the calendar,” Collins said.
So far this year troopers have recorded 32 fatal vehicle crashes on state and secondary highways in Horry and Georgetown counties. That figure does not include crashes that occurred in the city limits of local municipalities. That’s three more than the same time period last year and nine more than 2010.
Here is a breakdown of the recent crashes:
• On July 12, Derek Fiore, 34, of Rutherford, N.J., crossed two grass medians on U.S. 17 in Surfside Beach south of Ocean Lakes Campground and collided with cars stopped at a stoplight at S.C. 544. Cynthia Ayala, 18, of Surfside Beach, died in the six-vehicle crash.
Fiore remains hospitalized at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
• On July 14, Logan Trevino, 57, of Myrtle Beach, died just before 1 a.m. after his motorcycle crashed into the passenger side of a 2011 Toyota van that was trying to cross U.S. 17 near Ocean Lakes Campground. A second motorcyclist was airlifted to the Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., when his bike crashed into the roadway during the crash.
• On July 17, two people died in separate crashes. Ronald Todd, 33, of Conway, died that afternoon after his motorcycle ran off the right side of the roadway and hit a ditch on Highway 548 near Conway. Gregory Smith, 47, who lived on Ferguson Drive in Pawleys Island, died about 6 p.m. the same day at Waccamaw Community Hospital when his truck collided with a Williamsburg County Transit bus. Smith was leaving Club Isis, near Beaumont Road, when it was hit by the bus headed to Kingstree.
• On July 18, David Alan Tomlin, 60, of Ravenel in the Charleston area, died when his pickup truck collided with a dump truck on S.C. 22 near the U.S. 501 interchange about 1:30 p.m.
The results as to what caused the crashes, as well as whether charges are filed in any of the incidents, may be several weeks away.
“There is never a definite timeline on a MAITE investigation. Every investigation has different characteristics to it. They do take several weeks before that report is submitted,” Collins said.
The team reviews everything from the weather conditions, speed, traffic congestion and mechanical operation of each vehicle involved, and they meticulously map and re-create the scene, Collins said.
“There could be a whole list of answers that we could get from them,” Collins said. “We do wait for that report is ready before we make charges typically.”
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723.