Five Georgia Southern University students were killed and two others were injured Wednesday morning in an accident on Interstate-16.
The accident was a seven-vehicle pileup early Wednesday morning on eastbound Interstate 16 in Bryan County that apparently was caused by an earlier crash involving a tractor-trailer and an RV. The accident occurred near mile marker 140, about a mile west of the Highway 280 exit, Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith said.
Killed in the crash were Emily Clark of Powder Springs, Morgan Bass of Leesburg, Abbie Deloach of Savannah, Catherine McKay Pittman of Alpharetta and Caitlyn Baggett of Millen. The GSU students hurt in the accident were Brittney McDaniel of Reidsville and Megan Richards of Loganville.
"The loss of any student, especially in a tragic way, is particularly painful," GSU President Brooks Keel wrote in a message to GSU staff and students. "Losing five students is almost incomprehensible. Every one of our students contributes in no small measure, to the Eagle Nation, "Our hearts go out to the families, friends and classmates of these students."
Smith said it's one of the worst wrecks he has seen in his 21 years as sheriff.
"You almost can't believe it," he said. "You don't want to see it."
The crash occurred at roughly 5:45 a.m. when a tractor-trailer ran into traffic that was stopped while emergency crews were working on the first collision, which took place around 2 a.m., Smith said, adding that he got the call about the first wreck at 3 a.m.
In all, three big rigs, two cars and two pickup trucks were involved in the second wreck, and two people were flown by helicopter to Memorial University Medical Center.
Bryan County Emergency Services Director Freddy Howell said BCES crews were dispatched to the second accident at about 5:55 a.m. and found "several vehicles with patients and one that was occupied and fully engulfed (in flames). Two helicopters were dispatched and used to transport two of the patients and the others went by ambulance or (their own vehicle)."
In the first crash, one patient was taken by ambulance to Memorial and others were treated by EMS at the accident site about a half-mile from the Highway 280 exit. BCES crews were dispatched at 1:48 a.m., Howell said.