Bibb sheriff’s office: Cellphone records of driver who hit firefighter subpoenaed

hgoodridge@macon.comAugust 2, 2013 

  • How to help

    • A Facebook page called “Prayers for Eric John” has been set up for well-wishers to post encouragement and purchase T-shirts ranging in price from $15 to $19.
    • Shirts can also be ordered online at www.squareup.com/market/paula-swearingen.
    • Monetary donations can be made c/o Charity for Eric John at any Central Georgia Credit Union.

Bibb County sheriff’s officials are still trying to determine whether charges will be brought against a 19-year-old Warner Robins man who hit a Macon-Bibb County firefighter on Interstate 75 last month.

Fire Sgt. Eric John and a Bibb County deputy were standing in the innermost emergency lane of I-75 northbound near Sardis Church Road when John was struck by a 2009 gray Toyota Camry driven by Nayef Al-Shroof, officials said.

Al-Shroof’s cellphone records have been subpoenaed as part of the investigation, sheriff’s Lt. Sean DeFoe said Friday.

Al-Shroof told an investigator “he momentarily lost focus from driving due to several things on his mind,” according to an accident report from the sheriff’s office.

The accident happened just before 9 a.m. on July 11 while crews were cleaning up the roadway from a previous wreck. A patrol vehicle with flashing lights was parked in the inner lane of the highway as emergency crews worked.

When Al-Shroof “regained his focus,” he noticed the patrol vehicle in front of him, and he left the main roadway, traveling into the emergency lane where he hit John, the report said.

According to a statement, one witness told investigators, “the fireman flew ... into the air and landed in the southbound lane of Interstate 75 nearly 20 to 30 feet from where he was standing.”

That witness said she never saw brake lights from Al-Shroof’s vehicle before it struck John.

In his written statement to investigators, Al-Shroof wrote:

“I was driving to my university (located in Macon) from Warner Robins. As I was driving, I hadn’t noticed the police car stationed in the lane that I was in. I tried to turn left to avoid hitting the vehicle, but I subsequently hit an official on the side. I didn’t notice the vehicle in time because I lost focus momentarily.”

The deputy standing next to John when he was hit was so close to him that the deputy’s hat flew off of his head, Macon-Bibb fire Chief Marvin Riggins said Friday.

“He was extremely shaken up by it,” Riggins said of the deputy.

Meanwhile, John remains in critical condition in intensive care at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, Riggins said.

“He’s still battling,” he added. “He’s a trooper.”

Macon-Bibb County fire Lt. Demeterius Ellison, a close friend of John’s, said John underwent another surgery Friday.

“He had some minor setbacks,” said Ellison, who has served with John since joining the department 20 years ago.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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