Life on a curve: Burton woman fed up with years of car crashes in her yard

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comJune 18, 2013 

Jo-Anne Murdaugh of Burton stands in her front yard on Tuesday afternoon and points out the damage caused by a vehicle that destroyed her pool and nearly crashed into her home after jumping her metal fence early Saturday morning. This is the fifth time a car has crashed in her front yard this year, and Murdaugh attributes the accidents to drivers not slowing down enough while taking the curve in front of her home.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Longtime Burton resident JoAnne Murdaugh hopes the car that crumpled her fence and destroyed her pool Saturday will be the last to invade her yard.

The fifth car to smash through Murdaugh's fence on Colonial Avenue over the past year brought the closest call, stopping just feet from her home. The car ran through her fence and an above-ground pool, which was a few hundred feet from the road, before coming to rest in a fire pit just behind the pool.

"My grandchildren saw the pool, and they cried," she said. "I only got it a couple of years ago, so that they could swim when they came here."

In Saturday's incident, the driver turned the car around and drove out through Murdaugh's front gate before she could stop the driver. The car dragged several parts of the pool's mangled frame, dropping one piece on Murdaugh's driveway.

Murdaugh lives on a sharp turn along Colonial Avenue, which is preceded by a half-mile straight-away heading south toward a curve. She said at least one car has crashed into her yard in each of the 39 years she has lived there.

Murdaugh doesn't know how much she has spent over the years on repairs, but she said she paid thousands for the last four crashes, including $825 for each of the fence repairs. She said she was waiting to hear from her insurance company before she considers replacing the pool.

Some drivers leave before she can stop them, like the BMW that backed over her fence a few years ago. Murdaugh said she knew it was a BMW because she found the car's emblem on her lawn.

Many are never caught; some have been taken to court.

Murdaugh recounted the story of a 16-year-old girl who mangled her fence and azaleas, then smashed through her gate to escape. Police caught the driver because she left behind a bumper, which they used to track the car's owner.

Murdaugh said no serious injuries have resulted from the crashes, but she isn't willing to wait for one. She asked the S.C. Department of Transportation to help make the curve safer after a car careened into her yard in April.

"My daughter told me, 'You've got to put a stop to this before someone gets killed.' So I called up Transportation, and they put up warning signs," Murdaugh said. "Not more than three weeks later, another car went through my yard."

State traffic engineer Andy Egan said the department placed signs with arrows next to the road to mark the curve after Murdaugh complained. Those sign went up May 21. There were already signs farther up the road that note the curve and suggest slowing to 15 mph.

After speaking with Murdaugh again Monday, Egan said he put in a work order to add a larger sign indicating the curve, and a second curve sign on the opposite side of the road. Egan said Murdaugh told him the signs were a good idea.

Murdaugh said Tuesday she hoped more could be done, like adding blinking lights to the signs or speed bumps to the road.

Murdaugh said the crashes all have happened between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., leading her to believe drunken or distracted driving is the cause. She said she has asked for more patrols by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Robin McIntosh said she couldn't speculate about the causes of the recent crashes. McIntosh said that regular patrols in the area would continue, but did not say if they would be increased.

With no clear answer on how to fix the problem and little hope of catching those responsible, Murdaugh can only repair her fence again and hope for the best.

"I called Graybar about the fence, and the man on the line said, 'My God, I just fixed this,'" she said. "I'm not going to move because of all of this. This is my home."

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All

Find a Home

$849,000 Bluffton
4 bed, 4 full bath, 1 half bath. This gorgeous Custom Home...

Find a Car

Search New Cars