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Fuel tanker fire in Barnwell County makes driver identification difficult

A forensic anthropologist from Columbia was called in to help in the collection of the remains.

A semi-tractor trailer carrying fuel crashed and caught fire early Monday morning in Barnwell County. 

The driver, who officials believe is from Columbia, was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:30 a.m.   

Officials say the deceased was driving a semi-tractor carrying fuel and lost control of the vehicle about 3:42 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 278 and SC 37 before running off the highway and hitting an embankment. 

The impact caused the semi and trailer to catch fire. 

Barnwell County Fire Department crews responded and were able to put out the fire. 

Afterwards, it was discovered that there was someone in the tractor.

Barnwell County Emergency Management officials coordinated the use of a crane from Energy Solutions to assist in the lifting of what remained of the tractor so that the deceased could be recovered.

Bill Stevens, a Forensic Anthropologist from Columbia was brought in to assist in the collection of the remains. Dr. Stevens will assist the Coroner’s Office in confirming the identification of the driver of the semi-tractor.

After examination of the deceased, Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward says the individual died from blunt force trauma with the fire being a contributing factor. 

Toxicology tests will be performed.

The case is under investigation by the Barnwell Coroner’s Office and the S.C. Highway Patrol.

When identification is confirmed, officials say the name of the deceased will be released.