The Smith-McGee Bridge Collapse of 82

Smith-McGee Bridge South Savannah South Carolina

•About the Savannah•

I tend to learn something new about every place I visit and the Savannah River and Smith-McGee Bridge have been no exception. The Savannah itself is named after the Shawnee Indians and means “Southerners”. I did not know that. I always imagined that some fellow was just missing a gal called Savannah. Yes. That is how I imagine 90% of things get named.
Smith-McGee Bridge South Savannah South Carolina
The Savannah River separates South Carolina from Georgia and flows from The Appalachian Mountains all the way into the Atlantic Ocean. That means it runs for over 300 miles. I always thought that was a pretty incredible length. Turns out that isn’t much at all when compared to The Missouri and Mississippi River which both run for over 2000 miles. I also had never heard about the fatal accident of 1982 that happen on The Savannah.
Smith-McGee Bridge South Savannah South Carolina

•A Freak Accident•

The old Smith-McGee Bridge spanned The Savannah until a few years before I was born when it collapsed. The year would have been 1982 if I’m not mistaken. That is the year when a raised dump truck plowed into an overhead steel beam toppling it down on top of the unsuspecting driver. The injuries sustained were fatal.
Smith-McGee Bridge South Savannah South Carolina
Talk about a freak accident. How does something like that happen? you would think the driver could easily tell if the bed was raised or not. Then again, I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten to put the cap back on after filling my tank. So even if the driver did overlook the obvious, why do no fail-safes exist? Trucks shouldn’t move when the bed is raised, should they?
Smith-McGee Bridge South Savannah South Carolina
What I found even more disturbing was that this still happens today. Check this article out where almost the exact same accident happened earlier this year.

#87 on the Adventure Map



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  1. The man that got killed was driving a dump truck with his outfit that was building a new bridge. I imagine he moved dozens of loads of dirt per day. That sort of explains why he was careless in leaving his bed up. And , in those days, they didn’t have “fail safe” guards on things. I live near the site of the accident and after hearing the ambulances I went over there. The truck was still hanging on the top of the section of bridge. They had already removed the man’s body. I think for safety reasons they finished taking down that section of bridge. The Savannah is a beautiful river, especially along that stretch of miles.

    • That is very true. I can easily imagine how it could be overlooked. I’m mostly just shocked that it is still happening in a world where vehicles can drive themselves. Thank you for sharing your memory of the event. An unfortunate loss of life.

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