Three members of WR family die in wreck

WARNER ROBINS — Three members of a Warner Robins family died after a Sunday afternoon accident in Hawkinsville.

Jack Sandifer, 76, of Juliano Road, was driving a 2005 extended cab Dodge Dakota pickup on Ga. 247 in the rain when he lost control, left the road and hit a tree about three miles north of Hawkinsville, Pulaski County coroner Charles Young said Monday.

Sandifer and his 20-year-old grandson, Christopher Glen Oody, died at the scene of the 4:13 p.m. accident, said Laswanda Davis, Georgia State Patrol communications analyst.

His wife, 70-year-old Meral Sandifer, was taken by ambulance to Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville, where she later died, Davis said.

Oody was riding in the front passenger seat, and his grandmother was in the back seat, Davis said.

Sandifer was traveling north on Ga. 247 when he attempted to pass another vehicle, lost control and hydroplaned before striking the tree, Davis said.

The accident is under investigation by Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Richard Peck.

Neither the Sandifers nor Oody were wearing seat belts, Davis said.

Georgia law does not require anyone 18 years or older to wear a safety belt in a pickup truck, she said.

A bill to require drivers and passengers in pickups to wear seat belts is currently in a House subcommittee, said Joy Fethe, legislative aide for Sen. Don Thomas, R-Dalton, sponsor of the legislation.

The proposal exempts drivers of pickups used for agricultural purposes in an attempt to win approval of the bill, she said.

The Senate passed its version of the bill last month.

Of states that have seat belt laws, only Georgia exempts drivers of pickups from wearing seat belts, Fethe said.

The Sandifers were longtime contracted newspaper carriers, said Robert Tirado, single copy coordinator for The Telegraph.

Tirado described Jack Sandifer as a happy person who always smiled and was a hard worker. Meral Sandifer also smiled a lot and had a very positive attitude, Tirado said.

Oody filled in for his grandparents on their newspaper route, Tirado said.

Heritage Memorial Funeral Home at 701 Carl Vinson Parkway has charge of arrangements.

Staff writer Liz Fabian contributed to this article.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.