Authorities responding to serious wreck involving motorcycle near Whitesville Elementary School

Photo provided by Catherine Gunnells.

An Alabama man who was helping clear trees and debris from the median of Interstate 26 died today after he ran into traffic to avoid being hit by a falling tree, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury identified the man as Heath Sutherland from Phil Campbell, Ala.

Authorities said Sutherland was working for a contractor hired to clear debris from the February ice storm near the i87 mile marker about 11:47 a.m.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres said Sutherland ran into the eastbound lanes to avoid being struck by a falling tree that had been cut. He had crossed the left lane and into the right lane where he was struck by a 2006 SUV, Beres said.

Troopers assigned to the tree-cutting crews responded within a minute or so, Beres said. The man was taken to Trident Medical Center in Summerville where he was pronounced dead.

Salisbury said the death has been ruled accidental.

The driver and passenger inside the SUV were not hurt.

Both lanes were closed for nearly an hour as troopers re-routed traffic. The roadway was cleared by 1 p.m.

Authorities in Berkeley County were also on the scene of a serious wreck involving a motorcycle near Whitesville Elementary School.

The wreck was first reported at 11:10 a.m. at 324 Gaillard Road.

Authorities requested a medical helicopter to respond.