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Witness: ‘The car went up in the air’; video from scene of Orangeburg crash

A man was sent to the hospital Wednesday after his vehicle hit a utility pole on Stilton Road in front of the Nelson C. Nix Education Center.

“I was so scared. I thought it was going to be a head-on,” said Valerie Dobbs, who was driving in the opposite direction.

Dobbs watched as the brand-new blue Honda Accord with a temporary license tag crossed over into her lane.

“I saw him when he left that lane. It was like he was losing control, but he was going really, really fast,” she said.

“I said, ‘Oh God! This boy’s about to hit!’ and that’s when I went over in the schoolyard,” she added, referring to the parking lot of the Nix Education Center.

“I was getting out of his way. The car went up in the air, turned and came down on the side,” she said.

Dobbs, who lives nearby, said she’s seen quite a few accidents at that same site.

“There’s something about that curve. That’s where it starts,” she said.

Dobbs’ uncle, Timothy Corley, who lives across from the site, watched the collision as he sat under his carport.

Corley and a neighbor on Nix Court, Kenny Jenkins, pulled the driver out and placed him on the grass until Orangeburg County EMS arrived.

“He was hollering, ‘Help me! Help me!’” Corley said.

“I told Kenny to get up and hold the door for me because it was up on the side,” he said.

Corley grabbed the driver under his arms and lifted him.

“I said to him, ‘You’ve got to help me some, can you push any?’”

Corley was able to get the driver by his waist and drag him out of the car.

“Kenny got under the two arms and I took him by the legs and we walked him over here and laid him on the grass,” Corley said.

Corley, 73, said he’s lived in his Stilton Road home his entire life.

During his lifetime, he’s seen 53 vehicles crash into utility poles at the location where Wednesday’s crash occurred.

Wednesday’s collision marked the third time someone struck a utility pole at that same spot this year, he said.

“I’ve seen them come and hit that pole and run into the house here and knock my mama clean out of the bed,” he said.

Drivers are “slinging it through here,” he said.

“Sometimes me and my grandson are sitting up under the carport and he’ll say, ‘Granddaddy, here comes one!’” he said.

Dobbs thinks accidents could be prevented if there were more patrols in the area and signs warning people about the curve.

“A lot of times, most of the people who’ve had accidents on this street I’ve never seen in my entire life. I think they’re not familiar with the curve,” she said.

Electricity to the area was out temporarily as the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities quickly erected a new pole and restored the utility cables.

Sgt. Robert Davis of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety said the agency received the call about the crash at 1:56 p.m.

Officers remained on scene because of the downed power lines and to assist with traffic.

The S.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. The condition of the injured man isn’t known.

Hurricane Sally unleashes flooding, hundreds rescued

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Hurricane Sally lumbered ashore near the Florida-Alabama line Wednesday with 105 mph winds and rain measured in feet, not inches, swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland for what could be a slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South.

Moving at just 3 mph, or about as fast as a person can walk, the storm made landfall at 4:45 a.m. close to Gulf Shores, Alabama, about 30 miles from Pensacola, Florida. It accelerated to a light jog as it battered the Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama, metropolitan areas encompassing nearly 1 million people.

It cast boats onto land or sank them at the dock, flattened palm trees, peeled away roofs, blew down signs and knocked out power to more than a 540,000 homes and businesses. A replica of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Nina that had been docked at the Pensacola waterfront was missing, police said.

Sally tore loose a barge-mounted construction crane, which then smashed into the new Three Mile Bridge over Pensacola Bay, causing a section of the year-old span to collapse, authorities said. The storm also ripped away a large section of a fishing pier at Alabama’s Gulf State Park on the very day a ribbon-cutting had been scheduled following a $2.4 million renovation.

By the afternoon, authorities in Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, said at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas. More than 40 people trapped by high water were brought to safety within a single hour, including a family of four found in a tree, Sheriff David Morgan said.

Authorities in Pensacola said 200 National Guard members would arrive Thursday to help. Curfews were announced in Escambia County and in some coastal Alabama towns.

Sally turned some Pensacola streets into white-capped rivers early Wednesday. Sodden debris and flooded cars were left behind as the water receded.

By early afternoon, Sally had weakened into a tropical storm, with winds down to 70 mph. Showers still fell in parts of the stricken area Wednesday evening, and the storm was expected to generate heavy rain farther inland as it moved over Alabama and into Georgia.

At least eight waterways in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were expected to hit their major flood levels by Thursday. Some of the crests could break records, submerge bridges and flood some homes, the National Weather Service warned.

Morgan, the Escambia County sheriff, estimated thousands would need to flee rising waters in the coming days. Escambia officials urged residents to rely on text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.

“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” the sheriff said. “It's going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”

West of Pensacola, in Perdido Key, Florida, Joe Mirable arrived at his real estate business to find the two-story building shattered. Digging through the ruins, Mirable pointed out a binder labeled “Hurricane Action Plan.”

“I think the professionals got this one wrong,” he said before the wind blew away his hat.

More than 2 feet of rain was recorded near Naval Air Station Pensacola, and nearly 3 feet of water covered streets in downtown Pensacola, the National Weather Service reported.

“It’s not common that you start measuring rainfall in feet,” said forecaster David Eversole.

Sally was the second hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast in less than three weeks and the latest blow in one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever. Forecasters have nearly run through the alphabet of storm names with 2-1/2 months still to go. At the start of the week, Sally was one of a record-tying five storms churning simultaneously in the Atlantic basin.

Like the wildfires raging on the West Coast, the onslaught of hurricanes has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing slower, rainier, more powerful and more destructive storms.

An emergency crew rescued two people on Dauphin Island, Alabama, after the hurricane ripped the roof off their home and the rest of the house began to crumble. Mayor Jeff Collier said no one was injured.

In Orange Beach, Alabama, the wind blew out the walls in one corner of a condominium building, exposing at least five floors. At least 50 people were rescued from flooded homes and taken to shelters, Mayor Tony Kennon said.

“We got a few people that we just haven’t been able to get to because the water is so high,” Kennon said. “But they are safe in their homes. As soon as the water recedes, we will rescue them.”

Sally’s crawl made it hard to predict where it would strike. Just two days before landfall, the storm was forecast to hit New Orleans — 140 miles west of where it came ashore.

So Robert Lambrisky and his husband were caught somewhat off guard when the hurricane shook their door before daybreak and forced rainwater inside their home in Sanders Beach near Pensacola.

“We had some warning, but this was just such a strange storm,” Lambrisky said. “So all of this preparing that you do, when you know the storm is coming, was something we only half did because we were convinced the storm wasn’t going to hit us.”

Sally's effects were felt all along the northern Gulf Coast, affecting low-lying properties in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.

Hurricane Laura pummeled southwestern Louisiana on Aug. 27. Thousands of people were still without power from that storm, and some were still in shelters.

Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic, Teddy became a hurricane Wednesday with winds of 100 mph (160 kph). Forecasters said it could reach Category 4 strength before closing in on Bermuda, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Paulette only days ago.

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Two men charged in shooting incidents; one suspect accused of firing at Orangeburg County deputies

Two more men have been arrested in connection with separate shooting incidents that occurred last week, according to Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell.

“By their actions, they seem to think they are above the law or that it doesn’t apply to them,” Ravenell said. “For endangering the lives of my deputies and that of the citizens of this community, we’ve got some hard lessons they’re about to learn and we don’t mind giving them years to learn these lessons.”

Tyrick Gaffney, 21, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and also an enhancement of an attempted murder charge, criminal conspiracy and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime in two different shooting incidents.

Dion Robinson, 18, is charged with 15 counts of attempted murder in two different shooting incidents.

In Robinson’s charges, 14 of the 15 attempted murder charges come from an incident involving a Graham Street home.

Someone shot at the Graham Street home on the evening of Sept. 6. Multiple occupants were inside.

About an hour later, residents at another Graham Street home reported their home was shot at, which accounts for Robinson’s 15th charge of attempted murder.

Gaffney’s initial charge stems from a Sept. 7 shooting in which residents at a Brookdale Drive home reported someone fired at their residence.

About 30 minutes after the Brookdale Drive shooting, Orangeburg County Sheriff’s deputies patrolling Magnolia Street attempted to stop a black Infiniti matching the description of a vehicle in one of the previous shooting incidents.

Someone inside the Infiniti began firing at the pursuing deputies, according to the sheriff’s office.

The vehicle turned into Roosevelt Gardens Apartments where the occupants abandoned the Infiniti.

A tip led deputies to a vacant apartment. A semi-automatic rifle was found.

Gaffney and Robinson were taken into custody this week.

Two others were arrested last week in connection with the Graham Street shootings. Two people were wounded in those shootings.

“Along with the weapons seized and having taken these suspects off the streets, we’ve removed a lot of lawlessness from our community,” Ravenell said. “These individuals have shown they don’t care about you, me, my deputies or even themselves for that matter.”

Bond was denied for both Gaffney and Robinson during a hearing on Tuesday.

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Sally forecast to bring more rain to Bamberg, Calhoun, Orangeburg counties

The remnants of Hurricane Sally could bring more rain than previously expected to The T&D Region.

The National Weather Service says there’s an increasing potential for flash flooding in the area. There’s also an increased threat the storm could spawn a few tornadoes.

Sally will likely weaken into a depression as it crosses through north-central Georgia on Thursday, and lose its tropical characteristics as it moves into South Carolina late Thursday, according to the NWS.

Four to 6 inches of rain could fall on western Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties through Thursday night. The eastern parts of those counties are forecast to receive between 3 and 4 inches.

There is a slight risk of flash flooding in the region. A flash flood watch is in effect through Thursday night.

Breezy conditions are possible Thursday, but wind is not expected to be a significant impact, the NWS says.

Thursday and Friday’s high temperatures are expected to be around 80 degrees. Thursday night’s low is forecast to be 70 degrees while Friday night’s low is forecast to dip to 63 degrees.

Saturday and Sunday’s high temperatures are forecast to be 71 degrees with lows around 55.

There’s a chance of showers on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is forecast to be partly sunny.