Think about reasons you need a guardrail: A bridge over water, without a shoulder, and with a steep drop off into that water may all sound like good ones, but when we were first on the scene of a place with all of those things, no guardrails were there. After one young woman had a near death experience, Ashley Bridges went to South Carolina's Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to find out why.
Reanna Bange hydroplaned during a heavy storm and her car careened into a churning creek.
"When I went off the bridge, I remember saying, 'Oh God, and that's when I threw off my seatbelt,'" Reanna says.
Reanna was trapped and the car began filling with water. By the time Reanna was rescued, she only had three inches of airspace. Her family was afraid someone else might not be as lucky.
"I couldn't fathom getting a call that a person went off in the same place, but they didn't make it, they died," Reanna says.
Her father believed a short simple piece of steel could stop that from happening; he wanted guardrails, but didn't how to get them.
"I didn't know who to call," Bill Bange says. "It's hard. Who do you call, who do you turn to?"
So, WJBF called SCDOT and put them in touch with Bill Bange.
We also reached out ourselves to investigate the process for getting guardrails.
"I was like, "Oh my god, we've got guardrails, " Reanna's mother, Kim Bange says. "Who gets excited about guardrails."
"I finally felt a sense of safety, finally this hazard is covered," Bill says.
Before, those unguarded dangers were scary: Reanna would know.
"I guess it's scarier for me because I know what it feels like to go over it," she says.
But she says the fix for scary was simple.
"Most of things that work, that can work to help people, they are so simple," Reanna says. "This is simple, but when somebody hits this, they're not going to end up down there, flipped upside down," she says.
DOT got the railing up in less than three months, for a cost of around $25,000 dollars.
"I didn't die, but if this were not put up, if they didn't take the funds and put it up and somebody else went off this road…," she says.
While WJBF worked to get that guardrail on Highway 193 installed, there are miles of South Carolina roadways and SCDOT officials tell me one of the biggest problems is they don't always know about these trouble spots. To report a dangerous issue on a South Carolina roadway, click here.
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