GSP: Covington man killed in I-16 crash

COVINGTON — A Covington man was among the four people who were killed on Wednesday in a 27-vehicle pileup on Interstate 16 about 30 miles southeast of Macon.

The Georgia State Patrol has released the following names of victims: Michael Jerome Smith, 52, of Covington, Jeff Moore of Effingham County and Clayton and Josephine Warnock of Dublin.

The crash, involving a tanker truck that ruptured and caught fire, shut down I-16 in both directions, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

In addition to the four deaths, nine others were injured in the pileup that investigators believe involved as many as 10 separate crashes over a 1/4-mile area around mile marker 37 in the westbound lanes.

“As other vehicles approached the first crash, separate chain-reaction crashes then occurred,” the GSP post commander in Dublin said.

The GSP Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team will be conducting the follow-up investigation. The crash is said to have occurred under “reduced visibility” conditions.

A witness, who said he was in the Army National Guard, told The Courier Herald newspaper in Dublin that the fire and explosion from the tanker reminded him of being in Iraq.

“I saw the fuel tanker plow into an 18-wheler 15 feet away from me and burst into flames,” Joseph White Jr. said. “I’m looking back and the tanker exploded. Pieces of the tanker flew toward me on the freeway, barely missing me. A piece of the tanker landed like 10 feet behind me as I was running. It almost fell on my head … It was like a heat wave going over you.”