Crashes with SUV and tractor-trailer kill driver, Lexington County coroner says

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A man was killed when the vehicle he was driving swerved into oncoming traffic on a major interstate running through the Midlands, the Lexington County Coroner’s Office said.

The multi-vehicle collision blocked all of the westbound lanes on Interstate 26 for hours Thursday, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

John Richard Kotleba, 49, died at the scene, Coroner Margaret Fisher said Saturday.

The wreck happened at about 1:15 p.m. at the 127 mile marker on I-26, according to Fisher. That’s about 2 miles from Exit 129, which is the junction with U.S. 21.

Kotleba, an Alpharetta, Georgia resident, was heading east on I-26 when his vehicle crossed the median and into oncoming traffic where he collided with a westbound SUV and then crashed head on into a tractor-trailer, Fisher said.

Kotleba was wearing a seat belt, according to Fisher.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was hurt and taken to an area hospital, Fisher said. Further information on the truck driver’s condition was not available.

No other injuries were reported.

There was no word on what caused Kotleba’s vehicle to originally run off the interstate, but the collision is being investigated by South Carolina Highway Patrol.

It took about three hours for all of the lanes on I-26 to be reopened, and the highway was not cleared until after 5 p.m., according to SCDOT.

Through Friday afternoon, 788 people had died on South Carolina roads in 2021, state Department of Public Safety data shows.

At least 39 people have been killed in Lexington County crashes in 2021, DPS reported.

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