One man is dead after a seven-car accident on Highway 17 in front of Mount Pleasant Towne Centre Tuesday morning.
The Charleston County Coroner's Office has identified the victim as James Cook, 73, of Summerville.
Police said the crash happened around 10 a.m. when a dump truck, which was being driven by Cook, was traveling south on U.S. 17 crossed into northbound traffic. The truck struck a number of vehicles and then crashed into a stand of trees, according to one bystander. The truck erupted into flames immediately. Cook died at the scene.
Police were working early this afternoon to extract the driver of that truck from the crash scene. Capt. Stan Gragg, police spokesman, said seven vehicles were involved in the crash and that traffic would diverted until at least 5 p.m.
"We are encouraging mototrists to take alternate routes to avoid the congestion," Gragg said. Police are diverting traffic at Venning Road and the Isle of Palms Connector.
Miles of cars were backed up as far as Anna Knapp Boulevard in Mount Pleasant early this afternoon, and detour times stretched beyond an hour on the alternate routes. Traffic is already strained along U.S. 17 as workers overhaul Johnnie Dodds Boulevard
One motorist involved but not injured in the crash said the dump truck pushed a car through the intersection of U.S. 17 and James Nelson Boulevard and then crossed into northbound traffic.
The truck struck a stand of trees and the erupted in flames, said Tim Sharpe, who was parked in the intersection. The front of his Ford Taurus was damaged but he and his wife were not harmed, he said.
One motorist, however, was trapped under a car for a brief while but bystanders lifted the vehicle and freed the woman, Sharpe said.
"Six people went over and lifted the vehicle so she could get out," Sharpe said. "She was concious for a while."