AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Car magnet or brick wall? Yet another crash through the Rond Point wall at the intersection of Whiskey Road and Coker Springs Road in Aiken leaves people in the community wondering how to prevent these kinds of crashes.
The crash on November 28th is the fourth time since July 2021 that a car has crashed into the wall.
According to the incident report, it happened around 6:20 a.m. as the driver was travelling south on Whiskey Road. He claimed he heard a pop in the road, then his steering wheel locked up and caused him to crash.
The other crashes happened on November 18th, 2021, September 11th, 2022 and November 11th, 2022. In two of these instances, the driver was under the influence.
“They’re texting and driving, they’re reading their mail and driving, they’re drunk and driving, any of those categories,” said the owner of the property that part of the wall lies on, as well as the house behind the wall. “But bottom line is, they’re not using their eyes and recognizing that there’s a curve.”
The historic wall was built in 1928, and has had to be fixed multiple times by the homeowners, costing them tens of thousands of dollars, they said.
They put a different inflatable dragon up in front of the hole in 2019 after another crash, but they said that dragon was stolen.
They also said that pedestrian safety is their number one concern, and they’re not fixing the wall again until local leaders work with the state to find a solution.
“Like do we need to have someone dead? Like a mom pushing a carriage? Is that what we need for this to get the attention of the bureaucracies of the state?” the homeowner said. “I know the state has got a lot of other problems, but they certainly don’t need accusations of negligence.”
They also said they were told by SCDOT that they would have to request a traffic study of the intersection for them to design a change.
A statement that NewsChannel 6 received from SCDOT reads, in part:
“SCDOT understands that the City of Aiken was at one time doing a traffic study to improve this intersection. We do not know the outcome… A reminder that this wall sits on private property.”
It also read that:
“SCDOT has placed multiple measures in place to warn and define the curve in the travel way approaching this wall. Advanced warning signs with flashing lights, marking a dotted centerline and dotted edge line, and raised pavement markers along the dotted edge line for added retro-reflectivity through the curve.”
Aiken County Vice Chairman Andrew Siders said he is waiting to hear back from SCDOT about the future plans of the wall.
“What we would like to do from the city and county perspective, is work with the state on getting something done that is some sort of early warning or some sort of barrier to keep people from hitting the wall,” he said. “Because it’s past the point of ridiculous.”
Neighbors on the road are ready for a change as well.
“Over this last 55, 60 years, nobody’s been able to come up with a good solution,” said Ellison Weist.
However, the owner of the home behind the wall is an architect, and has some ideas.
“It’s so obvious that you need to re-enforce the curb,” they said. “And then you need a guard rail, so the guard rail would be on the curve to protect the pedestrians coming through the intersection.”
Until the traffic study is completed and plans are drawn out for a solution, it looks like Puff the dragon will be keeping watch.
“I feel sorry for my neighbor,” said John Dabney, who lives along the road. “That’s a tough thing at Christmas time.”