Houston & Peach

Woman charged with vehicular homicide after pedestrian struck on Peach County exit ramp

WARNER ROBINS -- A North Carolina woman has been charged with vehicular homicide and drunken driving after the vehicle she was driving struck a pedestrian Saturday night on an Interstate 75 exit ramp.

Mary Inez Merlo, 62, of Youngsville, North Carolina, was arrested on the charges by the Georgia State Patrol and taken to the Peach County jail, according to jail records. Her arrest and booking report indicates the vehicular homicide is a felony.

Killed was 58-year-old Leonard E. Suits Jr. of Knoxville, Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks said. Suits was pronounced dead atthe scene.

About 8:45 p.m., Merlo was driving a gray 2006 Dodge Caravan north on I-75 approaching Exit 146. When she took Exit 146, Suits was struck, GSP spokeswoman Tracey Watson stated in an email.

Suits was a passenger in another vehicle that had stopped in the emergency lane of the off ramp. The driver had stopped because of road debris stuck on the vehicle. Suits crossed over the exit ramp into the triangle-shaped strip of road between the interstate and the driving portion of the exit ramp, where he was struck by the vehicle, Watson said.

This portion of the exit is located in Peach County. Exit 146 is for Centerville/Warner Robins and Fort Valley.