‘I’m safer walking,’ said man killed on dark stretch of Gray Highway

lfabian@macon.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Daniel Muhammad walked everywhere.

“I don’t want to drive. I feel like I’m safer walking,” he told his mother.

The 25-year-old had survived a serious automobile accident years ago but was not as fortunate early Tuesday.

He got sick at work and was headed home when the driver of a 2006 Dodge Stratus hit him in a dark stretch of Gray Highway about 1:30 a.m.

He died near the median in the southbound lanes leading to the entrance to Wal-Mart.

Esther Muhammad drove to Macon from Rock Hill, S.C., after hearing about her son’s death.

She wanted to see where the accident happened.

“Is this where my son died?” Muhammad asked as she and two friends noticed the orange spray paint on the road.

While trying to make sense of how it happened, one of her friends spotted a lanyard holding a key ring lying in the grass around the row of crape myrtles.

Another friend found a poem written on paper softened by the day’s rain. It must have come out of his backpack, which was found near his body, they thought.

“He was poetic. He was creative. He was energetic,” his mother explained.

Her friends back home called him “the poet.”

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones told her how the man’s former colleagues were grieving his death at the Nu-Way and at Panera Bread on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard.

“He was well-known, well-liked,” she said. “He lived every moment of his 25 years. It wasn’t a dull moment with Daniel.”

A plate in his head from the prior accident gave him trouble and was likely the reason he left work early and started the miles-long walk home.

He routinely walked from Lake Bridge Behavioral Health System in the old Charter Lake facility on Riverside Drive to his Cherry Tree Hill apartment on Clinton Road.

“He always said, ‘You know I qualify for disability, but I refuse to be disabled,’ ” his mother said. “I’m going to work until I can’t work anymore.”

He was about a half-mile from home when a 20-year-old from Gray hit him in the inside lane.

His mother never expected he would lose his life that way.

“He was a master walker,” Muhammad said. “He knew how to maneuver in traffic, and he’d been walking this road for the last year, so that’s why it surprised me.”

Muhammad got a copy of the preliminary accident report that stated the driver didn’t know what she had hit as she was passing a tractor-trailer.

She pulled off on the side of the road after noticing the damage to her windshield, the report stated.

The victim was wearing dark clothing on a stretch of road so dimly lit that Jones requested a police cruiser to highlight the northbound lanes where his coroner’s car was parked.

For nearly four hours, Macon police detoured traffic onto Clinton Road from Wood Valley Road to Shurling Drive while traffic officers gathered evidence.

No charges were immediately filed, but the accident remains under investigation, according to a Macon police news release.

Visiting the scene will help Muhammad’s mother cope with the loss, she said.

Other family members arrived before she drove away.

Her son’s twin sister is taking his death hard, and he left behind other siblings, she said.

He had planned to settle down, get married and have children with a woman who appreciated his creativity.

His family will cherish his writings and the poetry he left behind.

“It’s going to be a shock to a lot of people because of the impact he had,” his mother said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.


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