Blanchard intersection not a factor in Saturday traffic fatality

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Motorists in Evans frequently complain about the lack of a turn lane or traffic signal on Washington Road at Blanchard Road, but the intersection wasn’t a factor in a fatal Saturday morning car wreck, authorities said.

Phyllis D. Autry, 54, of Old Louisville Road, was killed in the crash. She was a passenger in a Lincoln Continental driven by her husband, Paul Alexander Autry, 37, who suffered serious injuries and is in fair condition at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said today.

The three-vehicle crash occurred about 9:30 a.m. on Washington Road about 200 feet east of Blanchard Road, when for unknown reasons Daniel Edwin Morales, 38, was driving west in the eastbound lane, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office accident report. His car crashed head-on into the Autry’s Lincoln, sending it spinning onto the shoulder. Morales then struck another eastbound vehicle, driven by Albert Drapen Young, 41, of Evans.

Morales also is in fair condition, the MCG spokeswoman said. Young and his passenger were not injured.

Police found Morales at fault in the wreck for driving on the wrong side of the road.  Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said this morning that charges are pending.

Washington Road is a state highway, and Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Division Director Matt Schlacter has said the Blanchard Road intersection does not qualify for a traffic signal according to state Department of Transportation guidelines.

Columbia County is in the design phase of an estimated $55 million project, funded with the 1-percent sales tax, to widen Washington Road from near the Chimney Hill subdivision in Evans to William Few Parkway. That project includes turn lanes and other improvements at Blanchard Road.

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