Road patrolman talks the wrong way about his accident, the dangers of driving under the influence | New
HANAHAN – Private Nick Pye of the SC Highway Patrol was nearly killed last year when a wrong way driver crashed into his vehicle.
Pye, now a spokesperson for Patrol’s Troop 6, and another soldier were shot on Interstate 26 near Cosgrove Avenue in North Charleston around 5:15 a.m. on December 27. He and the other patroller were struck by a car heading east in the left lane westbound. Pye said in an interview with the Hanahan Police Department.
He said he wanted the tri-county community to understand the dangers of distracted driving and impaired driving and how quickly things can escalate. At the time of the crash, Pye was a field training officer educating the other soldier. Pye was in the passenger seat.
On a bend in the freeway, a person driving under the influence was driving in the wrong direction. Both saw headlights pop up about 15 feet ahead, moving squarely toward their car at 60 or 70 mph.
The patroller swerved to the right and the oncoming car slid onto the left side of the vehicle. The soldiers’ right front tire came off.
“In this job you definitely have near-death experiences, but it’s just an experience that comes to mind,” Pye said. “If my partner hadn’t been careful, then I definitely wouldn’t have survived.”
No one died in the accident. Pye, his partner, and the reverse driver were all injured. Pye and the other patroller are still recovering, he said.
Reverse crashes don’t happen often, but they do happen every year.
In August, a 32-year-old woman driving a Hyundai sedan was heading north towards Mount Pleasant on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge side towards Charleston, according to the Charleston Police Department. She hit another vehicle head on and died.
Charleston Police are still investigating the accident. Police reports say it is not known which ramp Swain took to get to the wrong side of the bridge.
Since January, there have been 160 reverse crashes in the tri-county area, including 88 in Charleston County. In 2020, there were 263 reverse crashes in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties. There were 260 in 2019.
These accidents combined have injured 500 people and killed 49 over the past three years.
Cpl. Tyler Tidwell, another highway patrolman in the southern tip of the state, said the deaths and injuries from these crashes were impacting loved ones across South Carolina.
“One of the most difficult parts of our job is going to someone’s house, knocking on the door and telling them that their loved one is no longer there,” he said. “If the collision is preventable, then this is something that shouldn’t happen.”
Tidwell said wrong way accidents can be very different. A car driving on the wrong side of the freeway is usually a much more serious accident than a reverse accident on a two-lane highway, he said, although both are classified the same.
Driving under the influence is the number one cause of driving the wrong way on highways, Pye said.
“Some of the Charleston area ramps can be confusing because they’ve grown so much,” he said. “But you don’t get on the freeway and travel several miles the wrong way without something interfering with your driving.”
But reverse crashes reflect the dangers of the road, Pye said.
“Driving is the most dangerous thing a normal person would do on a daily basis,” he said. “Until it’s in people’s heads, we’re going to keep having these fatal crashes.”
Pye thinks his accident is a reminder to be careful of the road, he said. Even if a person drives carefully, they should be wary of those around them who are not so responsible, he said.
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