Houston & Peach

18-wheeler driver charged after woman killed in I-75 flying tire crash

The driver of a tractor-trailer rig has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, in a Sunday crash in which a tire from his rig crashed through the window of a woman’s sports utility vehicle and killed her on Interstate 75 in Peach County.

Yurien Chavez Bello, 31, of Miami, Florida, also was charged with defective tires and unsafe vehicle/equipment, according to Peach County Sheriff’s Office jail records.

Bello was driving the 18-wheeler north on Interstate 75 just north of Byron when two tires came off the axle, Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks said Wednesday.

One of the tires went over a 5-foot-tall concrete median and crashed into a southbound 2019 Acura MDX, Rooks said.

“It took most of the top off the vehicle,” Rooks said.

The Acura then struck the left side of another tractor-trailer, with the impact causing the SUV to strike the median, said Franka Young, Georgia State Patrol spokesperson.

The car’s driver, Jennifer Thomas, 36, of Gray, was killed instantly in the crash, Rooks said. Her child and her parents suffered non-life-threatening injuries, he said.

Meanwhile, the 18-wheeler came to a slowed, controlled stop, Young said.

It’s not known why the wheels came off the 18-wheeler, she said.

In addition to charges brought by a state trooper against Bello, charges are also pending through the state Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division, Young said.

Bello, who has not yet had an arraignment, remained jailed Wednesday afternoon at the Peach County Law Enforcement Center, Peach County sheriff’s Maj. Kenny Cameron said in an email.

The crash remains under investigation.

Telegraph archives were used in this report.

Becky Purser has covered breaking news as well as crime and courts primarily in Houston and Peach counties for The Telegraph. She’s now exploring topics that impact the lives of children, parents and the family. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in communications/news-editorial sequence, Becky also has covered city and county government for Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia newspapers.
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