SCDOT to conduct traffic study following church bus crash that injured 17

SCDOT to conduct traffic study following church bus crash that injured 17
Updated: Jul. 6, 2018 at 10:04 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The bus crash that injured 17 on June 29 has spurred a traffic study at the intersection of Green Sea Road and Highway 9.

Sen. Greg Hembree is working with Rep. Kevin Hardee and the South Carolina Department of Transportation to improve the safety of the intersection.

Hembree said he has tried before to respond to residents' complaints about the area but was not successful.

"I took a run at it twice. I wasn't successful. I don't want to tell you, 'I told you so', but I wasn't the one doing the telling. It was the folks in the community. They are the ones saying, 'I told you so' and they should," Hembree said.

The decision to make changes to an intersection is in the hands of the SCDOT.

"It's kind of frustrating to us," Hardee said. "People look to us and we represent them, but at the end of the day we're at the mercy of DOT."

After conducting a traffic study of the same intersection about a year ago, the department did not find enough criteria to make a change, according to Hembree.

"I mean I get it. I understand," he said. "I appreciate that they're looking at objective criteria and they're trying to make evidence-based decisions and I'm all about that. On the other hand, I'm hearing from people who drive it every day and that it's scary dangerous."

WMBF obtained data on accidents at the intersection and found between Jan. 26, 2017 until June 8, 2018, there have been 13 crashes and 27 people injured.

"The permanent residents have grown and there's more traffic in that area than there's ever been before. The more traffic, the more dangerous it gets," Hembree said.

Hardee confirmed SCDOT has begun a study but said he's not sure if there will be enough traffic to warrant the addition of a traffic light.

While lawmakers try to prevent future collisions, the victims of last week's crash are working on recovering.

The bus was headed back to a church in Virginia after a week-long summer camp in Myrtle Beach.

Church pastor Alan Ray said all the victims are doing "remarkably well" and are "very resilient."

Group counseling sessions are scheduled for next week. Ray said there is no word on the final investigation yet.

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