Deaths on Upstate roads on the rise this summer

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For many people, summer is a time to get out of the house.

“Kids are out of school, people are on vacations, a lot more people are on the highways,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper L/Cpl Joe Hovis.

But as the summer months come to an end, so do the deadliest days for drivers to be on the road.

According to preliminary numbers, 262 people in South Carolina died in a motor vehicle accident between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year.

That is an increase from last year, which resulted in 237 deaths.

Of those, Hovis says 50% were alcohol-related deaths and 50% of people were not wearing their seat belts. 

“It only takes a second for you to change your life or someone else’s life forever,” he said.

The increase in deaths was also felt locally between 5 different Upstate counties.  In Anderson County, Greenville County, Oconee County, Pickens County and Spartanburg, there were a total of 49 deaths during that time, known as the “100 Deadly Days of Summer.”

Woodruff resident, Yvonne Howell, knows personally that these are not just numbers, they’re lives.

“To get that call that your family member – you don’t even know,” she said.

For Howell, it’s been nearly 6 months since her son, JC, and his coworker Zachary Ivey were struck by a woman driving under the influence on 385 N in Gray Court.

“She was speeding in the work zone while under the influence with a child in that car, and on the phone, and just doing all those things you say just don’t do,” Yvonne told 7 News on Friday.

Both men were working in the median at the time when Pamela Tackett, 31 of Gray Court, swerved and struck their vehicle.  That vehicle proceeded to hit the workers who were standing in front of it.

Tackett was charged with child endangerment and two counts each of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury. 

JC survived the crash with severe injuries, and is now in a wheel chair, according to his mother.

Zachary Ivey didn’t survive.

“In Zach’s family’s case, his son is never going to get to know his dad. He was taken away by someone making a poor decision.”

Yvonne said that hearing the number of deaths this summer is a shock and that laws need to be harsher on impaired drivers, in order for anything to change.

Until then, JC will continue with physical therapy, hoping to someday walk again, according to his mom.

“I think you learn to cope better. I don’t think you ever shake it. Personally I don’t think we’ll ever shake it. Our family will never shake it.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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