1 p.m. update: Georgia State Patrol have identified the five people killed in a Troup County head-on collision that they believe may have involved alcohol.
The deceased include Willie L. Hooks, 28; Melanie Kay Lemmon, 23; Miranda Hurston, 37; Quamauri C. Harrison, 1; and Tridarius Harrison, whose age is unavailable but police say is an infant. All are from LaGrange.
Lemmon’s Pontiac carried six passengers, including Miranda Hurston, who rode in the front seat, and the children who died.
Two teenagers also riding in the Pontiac were critically injured. Jayvianna C. Hurston, 15, was flown to Atlanta Medical Center and Shaquavious S. Harrison, 18, was flown to Columbus, according to GSP spokesman Gordy Wright.
It’s unclear whether seat belts were in use.
3:30 a.m. update: Alcohol is suspected as the possible cause of a head-on crash that killed five people and injured two Friday night on West Point Road, southwest of LaGrange, near Old West Point Road, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
Both drivers killed have been identified as Willie Hooks, 28, of LaGrange and Melanie Kay Lemmon, 23, of LaGrange.
According to the GSP, Hooks was driving a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass north and was passing a car in a no passing zone when he collided with a 1995 Pontiac GrandAm, driven by Lemmon, who was driving south on West Point Road.
Blood was drawn from Hooks to determine an alcohol level, the GSP said.
Three of the passengers in the Pontiac died in the crash and two others were critically wounded. The identities of the other victims have been withheld, pending notification of next of kin.
John Hart witnessed the horrific crash and described the scene in a telephone interview.
“It was the awfulest thing I have ever seen and I’ve seen a few car crashes,” Hart said.
The GSP reported that, at 6:40 p.m., two passenger cars collided, killing Hooks and four people in the other vehicle.
The two survivors were airlifted to hospitals in Columbus and Atlanta.
Hart said he was driving northbound on West Point Road, toward LaGrange with his wife and three grandchildren, after a pizza dinner at Johnny’s Pizza in West Point, when an older gold or brown Oldsmobile Cutlass passed him at a high rate of speed and collided with a white Pontiac traveling southbound. Hart said he was driving about three quarters of a mile north of the intersection of Old West Point Road when he noticed the passing car, driving in the opposite lane, and continue up a slight knoll. The Pontiac had just come over the other side of the knoll when the Cutlass collided with it at full speed, without braking.
“By the time you saw the headlights of the Pontiac come over the other side of that knoll, it was maybe two seconds before the cars crashed,” said Hart. The Pontiac looked like it had just started to veer to the right when they hit head on and came to a complete stop.”
Hart said the back end of the Cutlass lifted off the ground about five feet and its front end was crumpled.
“It looked like the back end of that car passed the front end. The car was bent like an L and the back end was raised so you could see the gas tank and the shock absorbers,” he said.
Hart said his wife and the people from the cars behind him and the single car in front of him got out and tried to render assistance to the victims, while he called 911. He said his wife and others checked for pulses of the man in the Cutlass and the women in the Pontiac and there were none.
“There was just complete silence, no moans not a sound,” he said.
Hart said he was driving at 55 mph and he was about four car lengths behind the car in front of him, when the Cutlass accelerated passed him in the southbound lane at a high rate of speed. He said he applied his brakes to give the speeding car more space to move back into the northbound lane.
“He had plenty of room to get back over and it was like he had to pass that one car in front of me. I said, ‘please Jesus, please Jesus, don’t let anyone be coming the other way on the other side of that knoll,’ and that’s when the crash happened.”
Hart said the male driver was on the floorboard of the crumpled Cutlass. He said he saw four females in the Pontiac not making any noise. He said one seemed like she was gasping for breath, but not making any noise.
Hart said the state trooper at the scene told him there were five dead and two injured. Hart said he did not see the two others among the mangled wreckage. He said rescue workers had to use the jaws of life to try and extricate the victims from the wreckage.
Troup County Coroner Jeff Cook confirmed that there are five fatalities.
GSP troopers are still investigating the scene of the crash and West Point Road has been reopened.
Please check back with lagrangenews.com over the weekend for further updates to this story and pick up Monday’s edition of the LaGrange Daily News for a full report.