Woman says think twice about stopping to help after close encounter with driver charged in I-20 crash

Woman says think twice about stopping to help after close encounter with driver charged in I-20 crash
Edward S. Watkins, 65, now faces charges in the crash. Fahey took this picture of him being taken into custody. (Source: WIS/Hope Richardson Fahey)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Myrtle Beach woman says she and her husband were driving through Columbia at the same time of a fiery crash on Interstate 20, Thursday.

Hope Richardson Fahey says she had what she describes as a scary encounter with the driver, whom she says caused that crash.

Edward S. Watkins, 65, faces charges of public disorderly conduct, assault on a police officer and driving “too fast for conditions” related to the crash.

Fahey and her husband were headed to a clogging event in Georgia on Thursday morning when they witnessed the fiery crash.

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, around 11:45 a.m. Thursday, a two-vehicle crash shut down Interstate 20 westbound near mile marker 70, between the North Main Street and Fairfield Road exits.

Troopers say one of the cars ran off the road and caught fire.

Fahey says shortly before the crash, her husband, who was driving at the time, mentioned that he noticed a car in his rearview mirror approaching extremely fast. Fahey says as that car passed them, it was moving so fast that it caused her large Cadillac to shake.

“He was driving like a maniac and he plowed into all these other cars,” Fahey said.

She says after the crash, her husband pulled over to help, and she dialed 911. Fahey says Watkins got out of his vehicle, seemingly disoriented.

She says this is what happened next.

“This man got in my car, and I thought it was my husband until I looked up and saw it wasn’t him and he had a look of rage on his face and he was screaming at me and he was screaming some of the worst expletives I’ve ever heard and I was kind of frozen," Fahey remembered. "He kept telling me to get my you know what – horrible things, which I really don’t want to repeat – out of this car. My husband pulled him, pulled on his arm. Well then, he got out of the car and started fighting my husband.”

Her husband says an undercover officer separated the two until highway patrol arrived and Watkins was taken away in handcuffs.

The incident has been with Fahey ever since. She says she’s had nightmares.

“I’ve had flashbacks and I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I’m driving off in the car and it can’t be stopped,” she said.

Fahey says, in her mind, she keeps replaying all of the other possibly outcomes to this situation.

“One of the biggest things I want is people to think twice when they see an accident," Fahey said. "My husband was nice enough to get out and try to help and I’m calling 911, but this could have turned into a deadly scene just by our stopping to help, and it really has been a nightmare for me. If I were to ever do this again, or I’m driving and I see an accident, I think what I would do is note my location, call 911, but I would keep moving. No one seemed attentive to me and I think there are victims out there who aren’t being heard.”

Troopers say there were injuries in the crash, but none were life-threatening.

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