South Street crash results in serious injury, outage, property damage

Published 6:26 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

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A two-vehicle crash occurred on South Street in Franklin on Jan. 27 that led to a power outage, a collision with a residence, minor injuries to three vehicle occupants and life-threatening injuries to one of the drivers.

Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Keith Whitley said the crash occurred Saturday, Jan. 27, at approximately 1:47 p.m. He stated that a 2002 GMC Yukon was traveling south on South Street at a high rate of speed.

Whitley said that the vehicle, driven by Chris Steward, of Franklin, ran into the rear end of a 2019 Dodge Journey, driven by LaDonna Porter, of Courtland.

“(Porter’s) traveling down South Street south, and (Steward’s) traveling at a very high rate of speed — south also, and it wasn’t at a stoplight or anything,” Whitley said. “He just ran into the back of her at that rate of speed. It pushed her into the power pole, which knocked out power in that area. His vehicle overturned, and he slid on his side into the house located at 1218 South St.

Whitley said Steward was airlifted and is currently in an area hospital, later confirming that the injuries Steward sustained were considered to be life-threatening.

The first sergeant noted that there was a passenger in Steward’s vehicle, and Porter was accompanied in her vehicle by her 12-year-old daughter. Porter and both vehicles’ passengers had minor injuries as a result of the crash.

Whitley said the crash is still under investigation.

Franklin Power & Light Director Zach Wright said the power pole that was struck was one adjacent to the house that was hit by the Yukon. 

He noted that when this power pole was hit, it broke the pole, causing one of the wires to snap, hitting the adjacent pole, which knocked out all of circuit 12, which he said represented the majority of the South Street area, Washington Street, Stonewall Street, Cobb Street, Hall Street, Madison Street and Roosevelt Street.

“That large number of residences were only out for about 45 minutes,” he said.

But there were three homes near the struck pole, including the residence at 1218 South St., that were out for a few hours.

“They were out till we got done about 6 o’clock,” Wright said.