2013 one of the deadliest on Macon, Bibb roads

lfabian@macon.comFebruary 10, 2014 

FatalFollow

Flowers and a sign mark the intersection where Central High School student Nashandra Finney was killed in an automobile accident in this Jan. 11, 2013, file photo.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

  • Macon, Bibb County fatal accidents

    2013
    Macon: 21 (23 deaths)
    Bibb: 9
    Total: 30, including GSP investigations

    2012
    Macon: 9
    Bibb: 7 (8 deaths)
    Total: 16

    2011
    Macon: 7
    Bibb: 15
    Total: 22

    2010
    Macon: 23
    Bibb: 17 (18 deaths)
    Total: 40

    2009
    Macon: 10
    Bibb: 8
    Total: 18

Hattie Thorpe thought she knew what to expect when the coroner knocked on her door last December.

Her older sister, Clara Davis, had collapsed into a coma after cooking Thanksgiving dinner, a little after a month after Davis’ 53-year-old son was hit and killed on Eisenhower Parkway.

“She was never able to come out of it,” Thorpe said of her 73-year-old sister.

But Coroner Leon Jones had much more shocking news.

Thorpe’s 47-year-old son was among the 32 people killed in 30 accidents on Bibb County roads last year.

“The bottom fell out,” Thorpe said. “It was like he was telling me about somebody else.”

Her family fell victim twice in one of the deadliest years for traffic fatalities since at least 2009.

Only has 2010 been deadlier with 41 deaths in 40 accidents.

After Thorpe’s nephew Donna “Donny” Davis died, she noted every fatality report. Three more people died before her son became the year’s second to the last victim.

Michael Anthony Thorpe was delivering lunch to Coliseum Medical Centers on Dec. 3 when his pickup flipped in a three-vehicle accident on Interstate 16.

“He was such a good driver and he doesn’t drink or smoke,” his mother said. “It never crossed my mind that he’d be in an accident.”

Without a seat belt to restrain him, he was thrown from the truck as food was scattered over the highway.

Early the next morning, his aunt died and the family planned a double funeral.

The fast food delivery man for Steak-Out was buried in line with Aunt Clara and his cousin.

Davis, who was 6 years older, was hit Oct. 18 on Eisenhower Parkway near Anthony Terrace, where he often crossed, his aunt said.

Georgia State Patrol Senior Trooper Eddie Moskaly said alcohol was not involved and no charges will be filed.

Bibb Deputy Austin Riley, the lead fatality investigator for the former Macon Police Department, is handling all but three of the city’s 21 fatal accidents that killed 23 people last year, including a 2-month old girl thrown from her mother’s car.

Witnesses say Karleigh Fountain’s estranged parents were aggressively driving their cars down Interstate 75 when La’Qwesha Johnson lost control, went off the road and flipped into a ditch near the Rocky Creek Road exit about 4:40 p.m. Nov. 30.

Riley is still investigating that crash to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

Charges are expected to be filed in the Oct. 23 accident that killed 61-year-old Luther Wright, who was walking on Magnolia Drive near Trinity Place at about 6:50 a.m.

Wright was the last of nine pedestrians killed within the former city limits of Macon.

“They are all random,” Riley said. “Out of nine (pedestrians), only one was in a crosswalk.”

On April 22, 5-year-old Ta’Miya Watson stepped off the curb to cross Virginia Avenue on the way home from school. She was in a crosswalk when she was hit by a Bibb County school bus. No charges will be filed against the driver.

No charges will be filed in an accident that happened about 10:40 p.m. May 31. Vanessa Rozier, 46, of Culloden, stopped on Riverside Drive near Corbin Avenue to retrieve her appointment book that fell off her car.

The beautician was hit by two cars and killed.

Alcohol a factor in at least 8 accidents

Three of the other pedestrians had been drinking, Riley said.

But alcohol testing is not always done if the deceased is at fault.

Jonny Silvero Lucas Vasquez, 26, of Macon, was so intoxicated witnesses said he was pulled off the pavement of Log Cabin Drive once before he made a fatal stumble into the path of a Honda Civic.

Map: 2013 Houston/Bibb Traffic Deaths

The car ran over him near the entrance to Sam’s Club about 9 p.m. Aug. 17.

Near the eastside Wal-Mart, 62-year-old Brenda Faye Johnson, of Macon, had been drinking before she was hit and killed crossing in the 1400 block of Gray Highway shortly after 1:10 a.m. Oct. 1, Riley said.

The wreck was almost exactly a week after 25-year-old Daniel Muhammed, of Macon, was struck down near that same dark stretch of road that led to his apartment about a half-mile away. He was hit just before 1:50 a.m. Sept. 24, but alcohol was not believed to be a factor in his death.

On April 29, 22-year-old Kenyotta Jones, of Macon, had alcohol in her system when she was struck and killed by a street sweeper on Eisenhower Parkway near Key Street.

The first Macon pedestrian killed in 2013, 23-year-old Chastity Johnson, was walking on Pio Nono Avenue near Rocky Creek Road when she was hit just after midnight Feb. 24.

Charges could be pending in that case, after a review by he district attorney, Riley said.

Three of the drivers involved in the city’s accidents were under the influence, including 38-year-old Sherry Bishop of Gray.

She was driving too fast down Pio Nono Avenue when she flipped her 2004 Chevy Impala at Houston Avenue shortly before 2:30 a.m. Jan. 12.

Bishop was thrown from the car and killed, as were her two passengers, Derwin Durden, 45, of Covington, and Temple Dumas, 40, of Raleigh, N.C.

Charges could be pending in the next fatal accident that occurred a little farther down Pio Nono Avenue near Glendale Avenue just after 6:30 a.m. Jan. 25.

A 78-year-old Warner Robins man was killed when he wedged his Cadillac under a flatbed truck pulling onto the road.

Speed kills

In the fourth fatal accident on Pio Nono Avenue, 52-year-old Marco Romero-Castaneda of Fort Valley, was traveling too fast when he lost control and slid into an oncoming, fully loaded 2005 Mack dump truck near Houston Avenue.

He died later at The Medical Center of Central Georgia.

Speed also was a factor in the May 30 accident that killed 53-year-old Bernadine Mbata, of Macon.

She left Tucker Road in her 2006 Nissan Pathfinder, hit a mailbox and culvert, flipped over and wrapped around a tree before the car burst into flames at about 5:50 a.m.

“She was late for work and just from the damage done to that vehicle, she had to be flying,” said Senior Trooper Moskaly, who investigated that crash.

Moskaly also examined the Jan. 10 collision that killed 17-year-old Central High student Nashandra Finney, who was a passenger in her father’s 1992 Mazda Protégé.

The Finneys collided with a Toyota 4-Runner at the intersection of Forsyth and Tucker roads shortly before 7 a.m.

Both drivers claimed to have a green light, and witnesses contradicted themselves, so no charges were filed.

“Unless you have a witness or a camera, it’s pretty difficult to determine,” Moskaly said. “People need to stop, even if they just leave their name and phone number.”

Both drivers did have the green light in the fourth fatality the Georgia State Patrol investigated within Bibb County last year.

On May 11, 85-year-old Robert Gamble was killed when he turned into the path of an SUV at the southbound entrance to Interstate 75 at Hartley Bridge Road.

Medical emergencies

Lt. Brad Wolfe, a fatality investigator for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, said it’s likely 47-year-old Thomas Alan Jones was not well when his vehicle crossed southbound lanes of I-75 and hit a bridge barrier at Sabbath Creek, which is just south of Arkwright Road.

Medical problems also were a factor in three of the police cases.

On April 8, 66-year-old Dorothy Hardy had a medical issue when she drove into a utility pole on Vineville Avenue just after 11:30 p.m.

A week later, 73-year-old Neil Williams suffered a medical emergency that caused him to lose control of his 1989 Chevrolet pickup on Eleventh Street and crash into a parking lot south of Lower Poplar.

Williams hit parked cars and a fence at B&D Industrials before winding up in a ditch.

On July 29, 81-year-old Clarence Butler of Gordon likely suffered a heart attack and clipped a couple of vehicles on Emery Highway near Jeffersonville Road.

His Ford Escort went off the road, down an embankment, through a large bush and crashed near a bridge on Indian Circle across from the Ocmulgee National Monument. Butler died days later in the hospital.

Two motorcyclists were among those killed last year.

On I-75 south of Sardis Church Road, Takisha Pittman, 33, of Stockbridge, was traveling with other bikers when she lost control of her motorcycle on March 10 at 8 p.m.

Just after 12:45 p.m. July 26, 48-year-old Anthony Baldwin suffered fatal injuries when a pickup pulled out in front of him on Columbus Road at Ebenezer Church Road.

Four more people died in single-vehicle accidents in Bibb County.

In the county’s first accident of 2013, 46-year-old Mechell Loraine Fincher went off Industrial Highway and hit several trees Jan 9 at 12:40 p.m. The investigation showed she had been drinking, Wolfe said.

Alcohol was also a factor in the accident April 29 on Bethel Church Road near Plantation Road.

Courtney Edwin Ross, 34, of Lizella, was thrown from his Toyota Camry after hydroplaning and hitting two trees about 11:20 p.m.

About 1 a.m. June 9, 25-year-old Erika Bartholomew hit a fence in the 5000 block of Hartley Bridge Road.

On Nov. 22, 44-year-old Sidney Jackson of Thomaston lost control of his Ford Shelby Mustang in the 3100 block of Jeffersonville Road. He crossed from westbound to eastbound lanes and went of the road.

Jackson clipped the curb, a fire hydrant before partially flipping the car into a utility pole.

When the person who causes an accident dies, there is often little an investigator can do to reconcile what happened.

On Sept. 9, Daniel Dewayne Cassidy, 32, of Jones County, crossed the center line of Jeffersonville Road in his Honda Accord.

He was killed instantly in the collision with a Nissan Pathfinder near Arctic Circle.

Drivers failing to yield caused two more fatal accidents in the county.

On March 21, Patsy Nicholas, 61, of Macon, was killed when she pulled her Toyota Camry onto U.S. 80, where she collided with two vehicles at Fulton Mill Road just after 7:10 p.m.

And in the county’s final fatal accident, 40-year-old Melissa Godfrey was killed just after 6:40 p.m. Christmas Eve when she turned her Honda Accord in front of Chevrolet Silverado at the Skyview Mobile Home Park on Houston Road.

While the causes of 2013’s accidents vary, Wolfe encourages defensive and sober driving.

“Pay attention to your surroundings,” he said. “When you’re driving, you need to concentrate on driving. Of course, don’t drink and drive.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

 

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