Seven people were killed Saturday in a chain-reaction crash on a highway in Georgia when an SUV crossed over the median into traffic headed the other way, authorities said.
Cellphone images obtained by news outlets showed mangled vehicles on the roadway after the crash which occurred about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta on the Interstate 85 not far from its approach to the Georgia state line with South Carolina.
The crash occurred about 1.45pm Saturday at mile marker 160 and directly involved three vehicles on in Franklin County in northeast Georgia.
The police statement said a northbound Ford Excursion crossed the median for unknown reasons and entered the southbound lanes of the normally bustling interstate.
There, police said, that SUV struck a Chevrolet van that was headed south in the left lane, causing a chain-reaction crash in the southbound lanes that also involved a Ford E350 van in the right lane.
All four occupants of the Chevrolet were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
Authorities say three people were killed and three injured in the Excursion.
The injured were taken for medical treatment and two were airlifted by a South Carolina-based team.
They were one of many that assisted the rescue and recovery efforts including an ambulance from Banks County Fire/EMS.
Units from Banks County Sheriff’s Office were present and the Franklin County Coroner’s Office attended the scene.
The impact of the collisions sent debris flying that also caused minor damage to two additional vehicles, according to the statement.
No one in the Ford van was reported hurt, Georgia State Patrol said in a statement.
Georgia State Police didn’t immediately release the ages or identities of those involved.
‘Our 9-1-1 did a fantastic job getting everything out there,’ Access WDUN reported Franklin County Sheriff Steve Thomas said.
‘We also called some ministers. Some of them that were injured and some of the fatalities were Hispanics, and we called the minister from Lavonia. He’s a Hispanic minister up there at the Baptist church. He met some of the families at the hospital and talked to them and helped them.’
Media outlets reported one of the injured was in critical condition. The other two were stable.
Georgia State Patrol Post 52 in Hartwell and the Troop B Specialized Collision Reconstruction was investigating the crash.
The road reopened at 7.30pm.
Thomas said about the number of people who died in one vehicle collision ‘is one of the worst’ he’s seen in his career.
‘Our hearts and prayers are with the victims, the families,’ Thomas added. ‘There’s never a good wreck. You can call them an accident, but they’re motor vehicle crashes.’