Body found in canal identified after 18-wheeler runs off I-20 bridge

GDOT crews work to repair the guard rail on the I-20 bridge near the state line. (Source: WFXG)
GDOT crews work to repair the guard rail on the I-20 bridge near the state line. (Source: WFXG)

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Crews have found the body of a driver whose 18-wheeler ran off an Interstate 20 bridge into the Augusta Canal early Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The dive team and DNR found the driver's body around 3:55 p.m., Capt. Mark Padgett with DNR said. The Richmond County Coroner has now identified the driver as Cedric Miller, 48, from Hartsville, S.C.

Miller was sent to the GBI Atlanta Lab for a scheduled autopsy, which will probably take place Friday, according to officials.

The truck lost control around 4 a.m. and ran through the guardrail on I-20 near the state line and into the water, Capt. Calvin Chew with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said. Tow trucks pulled the 18-wheeler out of the water Thursday morning.

Truck drivers said accidents like this can happen to anyone.

"I've gone over that bridge multiple times and every time I go over that bridge it would suck to really go off of this, and then when I heard about it, oh my God I can't believe that's happened to somebody," one truck driver, Clinton Knapp, said.

Knapp and Deanna Fralin told us the roads at night can be treacherous, especially for truck drivers.

"It's rough out here and especially at night, you know its dark, especially on I-20," Fralin. "It's a dark long stretch of highway that'll eat you alive if you let it."

"If the wheels aren't turning, you're not getting paid," Knapp said. "So they'll break the rules all night and all day and think the little energy drinks and pills or whatever they're using can keep them awake, but eventually the body just shuts down."

Deputies said they don't yet know what caused the driver to lose control. According to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, when tow trucks pulled the 18-wheeler out of the water, the driver was no where to be found. Knapp and Fralin said there's a big risk that comes with truck driving. Anything can happen.

"You think nothings going to happen to you, but anything can happen," Fralin said. "A tire can blow, you can doze off, an animal, another car, another car. You just have to stay alert at all times."

"It can happen to virtually anybody, whether you're following the rules or not," Knapp said.

Both Fralin in Knapp say the accident reminds them of the dangers that come with their job, and they're going to be very cautious on the road to prevent something like this from happening to them.

All lanes on I-20 are open again, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. Workers mostly repaired the guardrail and will return Monday for finishing touches.

This is not the first time an 18-wheeler has run off the I-20 bridge over the Augusta Canal. It happened in August 2012 as well. The driver in that incident survived the crash.

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