SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW) — Residents are reacting after a deadly crash near the Socastee swing bridge on Monday.

The crash killed 23-year-old Demeatrius Chandler Jr., of Myrtle Beach, after he drove his car into the water. He was the only person in his vehicle.

The deadly crash will keep the swing bridge closed to traffic for “at least a week,” according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

News13’s Claire Purnell spoke with some people who were impacted by the closure, as well as someone who said she witnessed the driver just before the crash.

Jesi Allison, a Forestbrook resident, said she was walking back home from Breakfast House on Dick Pond Road at about 11:30 a.m. Monday when she was almost hit by a silver car who was “driving erratically.”

She described what happened next.

“There were maybe six cars to the left of me on the road going toward the swing bridge. I’m standing at the dollar general and I had moved because I saw him coming and he slammed past me,” Allison said. “As soon as he got around those cars, he jerked it back over in front of them and just hauled it. And I could see him all the way down to the light and he never stopped.”

“He peeled out from between some cars and went up to about 80 to 100 mph and he crashed through the gates that come down like the railroad crossing gates,” Gina Davis said. “He crashed through those and as the bridge was opening, he hit it and he hit the beam. And you can go up close and you’ll see where he impacted. And we heard that when he impacted that the car just broke up into smithereens.”

SCDOT officials confirmed that damage to the support beams of the bridge was from the crash. The gates were damaged as well.

“That gate will be repaired as a part of this as well,” said Kelly Moore with SCDOT. “And so, those repairs will continue as a part of this repair schedule again to get the bridge back open for that.”

SCDOT said it does not have any numbers yet for the estimated cost of the repairs, but it did authorize an emergency contract in order to speed up the process.

“There’s thousands of us that live off Forestbrook Road, it’s a major road,” Davis said. “So, having this bridge out of commission, it’s devastating.”

News13 reached out to the South Carolina Highway Patrol for more information about the cause of the crash, but they said it is an ongoing investigation and did not give any further details.

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