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A Labor Day afternoon collision on Highway 50 near Lake Martin claimed the life of a Jacksons Gap woman and injured three others in an accident that closed the highway for several hours near Martin Dam and in which bystanders said a 5-year-old crawled from the wreckage.

The accident occurred in western Tallapoosa County only about three miles from the dam in a section of Highway 50 full of tight, twisting curves and steep hills, making it difficult for responding helicopter rescue crews to find a nearby landing zone.

The rural area is near the southwestern portion of Lake Martin, several miles north of Tallassee and east of Kowaliga and Elmore County.

Susan Burkhalter, 45, was killed in the accident and two passengers in her vehicle were injured and rushed to local hospitals. She was driving a 2007 Mazda Touring and not wearing a seat belt, according to Alabama State Troopers.

Burkhalter, a Dadeville High School graduate, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident also involved a 2015 BMW. The driver of that vehicle also was injured and rushed to a local hospital.

No information on the conditions of the injured was available late Monday night.

Witnesses first on the scene told emergency responders that a 5-year-old crawled out from the wreckage, but it was unclear from official reports if a child was among the injured.

Numerous emergency personnel were called to the scene, including helicopter transport, multiple ground ambulances, the Union Volunteer Fire Department and law enforcement personnel.

The accident occurred at 3:32 p.m. Monday, during a holiday weekend that saw a steady stream of travelers trekking to and from Lake Martin. Highway 50 skirts along the southern border of the nearby lake.

Roadblocks were established to reroute traffic, with the Union Volunteer Fire Department manning a temporary stop on Highway 50 at Beulah Road.

The highway remained blocked well into Monday evening as Alabama State Troopers investigated the accident and emergency responders and road crews continued to operate.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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