When Sharon Huff stood before the Morgan County Board of Commissioners Tuesday she felt the need to explain why she had asked to be placed on the agenda.
It’s simple, she said. “The Swains were neighbors of mine, so it hits me kind of hard.” She was referring to the death of local artist Eugene Swain on June 12 when a gold 1997 Ford Super Wagon driven by Swain, 61, was struck by a white Chevy pickup truck square on the driver’s side as Swain and the truck, driven by Corey Justin Schneider, both crossed through the intersection of Bostwick Highway and Sandy Creek Road. The collision caused the van to roll and Schneider’s truck slammed into a gas pump at the Country Store and exploded in flames. Schneider, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene. Swain was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center but was later pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the wreck. His wife, Glenda, 65, was also airlifted from the site and is recovering from injuries sustained in the wreck.
Schneider was traveling west on Sandy Creek Road and blew through the intersection without activating his brake lights, a witness said.
Huff petitioned the board to do something to create driver awareness at the intersection and did so by presenting them with a packet of photos she had taken at the intersection.
“If you weren’t familiar with that road,” she said showing a photo of the road from Sandy Creek Road west to Bostwick Highway, “could you see the stop sign to know that you needed to stop?”
“It’s very difficult to see what you’re coming up on.”
Huff also cited a report in the Morgan County Citizen at the time of the incident in which a Georgia State Patrol trooper said the intersection was notorious for collisions. “Last November another man died there,” she said, citing the newspaper. “How much tragedy is it going to take for us the realize we’ve got to do better?” she asked.
“History has proven to us time and time again that we are losing lives at that intersection.”
Morgan County Board of Commissioner Chairman Philipp von Hanstein said the county was currently in talks with the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) “to figure out what we can do.”
Morgan County Manager Adam Mestres said the DOT had recently added a second stop sign at both the west and east end of Sandy Creek Road at the intersection. Mestres also said the county could and would lengthen the width of rumble strips at the intersection. Tree limbs near the stop signs have also been trimmed.
Huff said she was hopeful something would happen soon.