2018-03-07 / Front Page

Evans man killed in head-on crash Monday afternoon


A Plant Vogtle employee was killed in a fiery crash on River Road Monday afternoon.

Franz Schultz of Evans died of injuries sustained in the wreckage after his Mazda Miata was hit head-on by a man attempting to pass a UPS truck. He was 48 years old. The driver of the other vehicle, identified as a 21-year-old male whose name has not been released, sustained serious injuries and was transported to Augusta University Medical Center.

River Road has become infamous for the number of speeders who travel alongside thousands of other drivers (many Plant Vogtle workers) on the roadway daily, their violations resulting in frequent traffic collisions and injuries. Yet, according to law enforcement reports, they continue weaving in and out of miles-long trails of vehicles, ignoring blind spots and double yellow lines in pursuit of shaving a few minutes off the commute.

While some have criticized the sheriff's office for inadequate patrolling, Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard says that is simply not the case.

He says their office has been very proactive in its quest to lower the number of not just speeders but also crashes, especially ones that result in serious injury and/or death.

Since 2016, Chief Blanchard says the number of traffic enforcement and citations have more than tripled, and that a minimum of two deputies, and oftentimes up to four, are in the area during shift changes while the other eight-10 deputies on duty cover the 800-plus square miles that make up Burke County.

“We also have issues on highways 23, 24 and 25 which need increased enforcement,” he said, adding that deputies are also handling the regular day-to-day calls that come in.

This year alone, more than a dozen crashes have occurred on River Road, with almost half of those requiring hospital transports due to injury.

“We have asked for addi- tional support from Georgia State Patrol and have asked the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for a grant to provide two additional traffic officers,” Chief Blanchard said, adding that the department has also stopped issuing warnings and is issuing far more citations this year.

Fines have also been increased.

“Three-thousand additional cars on a two-lane road over a ninety-minute period twice a day greatly increases the need for enforcement, and we will devote as many personnel to the area as possible while still properly covering the rest of the county,” Chief Blanchard said. “Even one death is one too many, but we are in no way ignoring the problem.”

Schultz’s death marks the first on Burke County roadways in 2018. Last year, a dozen people were killed in crashes across the county.

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