Column: Let's hope Whiskey Road wall can stay out of the news for a while

Mar. 17—There's an old expression in journalism about what constitutes news.

If a dog bites a man, that's not news. It happens every day. But if a man bites a dog, that's unusual and newsworthy.

We're about to that point when it comes to the brick wall on Whiskey Road. Vehicles have hit it many times, and we dutifully go out and get a photo, write a story and post it online.

I don't think the brick wall is going to jump out and attack cars, to carry out the man bites dog analogy, but I hope one of our reporters is there to capture the moment if that does occur.

All kidding aside, the constant damage to the brick wall is a serious issue. As I started to write this column Wednesday morning, we learned more about the incident. The driver was charged with driving under the influence and for leaving the scene of an accident.

Before those details emerged, there was much speculation about the cause of the latest incident and why it seems to be a frequent target. By my count, the wall has been hit four times since the fall of 2019.

A brief history:

In November 2019, a Williston woman was charged with driving under the influence after police responded to an accident call at 2:05 a.m. The driver and her passenger told police she "swerved into the wall in a panic after a vehicle passed on her left," our newspaper reported.

In December 2020, workers repaired the wall and restored it to its former glory.

In November 2022, the wall was struck by a vehicle that also took down the S.C. Highway 19 marker. It left cracks in the wall and a dent at the point of impact, we reported.

Later in November 2022, a driver hit the wall with such force to cause a gaping hole in the brick wall and knock a pineapple statue that was on top of the wall onto the top of the car. The driver was not charged because police said the accident was caused by mechanical failure.

The homeowner, Chris Eaton, must be at her wits' end. Flashing lights and barricades; it seems that nothing can stop people from running into the wall. The city has had discussions with the S.C. Department of Transportation about the issue.

To be fair, the wall is at a curve on a very busy road. Still, I see no good reason to hit it unless you're distracted, under the influence or another vehicle forces you off the road.

I pass that wall, on average, about four times per day. Because of traffic, I'm usually well below the posted speed limit.

A lot of folks think this is a more recent problem because of cellphones and distracted drivers, but I'm not sure I agree. Surely that's a contributing factor, but police said in late 2019 that the wall had been hit two times prior to that incident. It might have been a few years, but I'm confident someone has hit it prior to then.

Not too long ago someone hit a brick wall at the corner of South Boundary and Whiskey Road. And through the years, I've seen the small brick wall at the corner of Audubon and Two Notch roads taken down many times, including before cellphones were common.

I tell people all the time that my job is never boring. Within minutes of the latest crash, we received phone calls, texts and people rushing to the newsroom to tell us about it. Many people posted photos on social media.

Let's hope it's a while before we report that type of news again.

Thanks for reading.