A driver ignoring a no-passing zone on West Point Road crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another car, killing himself and four others, including a 1-year-old boy, the Georgia State Patrol said Saturday.
The crash killed three generations of one family
The deadly wreck occurred at 6:40 p.m. Friday night, about three quarters of a mile north of the the intersection of West Point Road and Old West Point Road, and injured two teenage passengers who were airlifted in critical condition to hospitals in Atlanta and Columbus, said Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright.
The deceased include Willie L. Hooks, 28; Melanie Kay Lemmon, 23; Miranda Hurston, 37; Quamauri C. Harrison, 1; and Tridarius Harrison, 16, all of LaGrange. Miranda Hurtson is the mother of Tridarius Harrison and grandmother of Quamauri. Lemmon was pregnant.
Two of Hurtson’s other children, 15-year-old Jayvianna Hurston and 18-year-old Shaquavious Harrison, were taken to West Georgia Medical Center before being flown to hospitals in Columbus and Atlanta. Both were listed in critical condition this morning.
According to the GSP, Hooks was northbound in a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass and passing a car in a no-passing zone when he collided with a 1995 Pontiac GrandAm driven by Lemmon, who was southbound on West Point Road.
Lemmon’s Pontiac carried six passengers, including Miranda Hurston, who rode in the front seat, and the children who died.
Only Lemmon and Miranda Hurston wore seatbelts, police said. The infant, reportedly the son of Shaquavious Harrison, was held by a back-seat passenger.
Alcohol is suspected as the possible cause, Wright said.
“Alcohol is suspected as a possible contributing factor,” Wright said in an email. “And blood was drawn from Mr. Hooks to determine a blood-alcohol content.”
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.
Hart said he was driving toward LaGrange on West Point Road 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, the people from 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, but there were none.
“There was just complete silence; no moans, not a sound,” he said.
Hart said he was driving 55 mph and was about four car lengths behind the car in front of him when the Cutlass accelerated past him. 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 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 five fatalities.