Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – A tree fell onto I-26 blocking west bound lanes close to the 92 mile-marker near the Chapin area and the Lexington County line early Sunday morning. The first vehicles struck the tree around 3:30 a.m. and a huge pileup ensued that eventually involved as many as 12 vehicles, injuring five or six people.
Both the Lexington County Fire Service and Lexington EMS responded out of Chapin as did Rescue 2 from the Columbia FD and units from Richland County's EMS. It never was made clear via the SCHP site exactly what county the accident was in and it didn’t matter to the rescuers; people were injured and needed help, so the county line simply wasn’t an issue.
Because the entire interstate was stopped, rescue equipment travelling west had extreme difficulty getting to the accident scene due to the traffic. Eventually first responders did arrive, but the additional ambulances needed were instructed by troopers to come from Exit 91, the Chapin exit, and drive “suicide” or east in the west bound lanes to the site. This was possible because the huge backup at the collision site had the interstate deserted between the wreck and Chapin.
Eventually, enough ambulances were able to make their way to the scene to deal with all the patients injured in the accident. SCHP troopers were still on the scene well after 5:00 a.m. trying to untangle the mess. They were detouring vehicles around the crash between Exit 97 and 91 westbound. The interstate was reopened sometime later Sunday morning. Troopers have not said what originally brought the tree down in the interstate.