Articles Posted in Fatal Injury

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Vehicle Accidents in State and National Parks

Along with summer fun, summer safety is top of mind for many families. As well it should be. We recently wrote about the increased risks and dangers to teens and children in open waters as families head to the beach. Another important concern is staying safe in the outdoors, in places that are new to us and can result in personal injury. Georgia’s parks and recreational areas are wonderful places for family fun. But we all must be mindful when in the outdoors. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling this summer.

Go slowly on mountain roads and pay attention in areas that are new to you as a driver. Last month a fatal truck crash at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park not only took one life, but caused injury to several others. This is the fourth crash that resulted in a fatality this year at the park. This most recent accident involved a pick up truck that was hauling a flat bed trailer. The trailer was carrying another pick up truck. Apparently the pick up truck driver lost control of his vehicle and was not able to handle the trailer he was pulling. He collided with two oncoming vehicles which resulted in several victims being taken to the hospital. The other accidents that occurred at the park this year, included a fatal fall from a bicycle, a fatal motorcycle crash and a single vehicle crash.

Our Parks Are Safe, When Warnings are Heeded

The National Park Service is a great resource for health and safety when preparing to visit a park. They report that many fatalities in national parks are preventable and are due to heat stroke and failure to bring sufficient water. Hiking and climbing can be exhilarating, but failing to take the dangers seriously can result in serious injury or worse. Visiting parks and recreation areas is a great part of summer fun. But visitors should heed warnings and avoid dangerous situations that can result in harm. This is a problem around the country.

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iStock_000001983354XSmall-300x199A recent Editor’s Pick in the Albany Herald discusses the positive impact of a law that we believe is important for many to know about. As is the case in other states, Georgia has a Good Samaritan law. Georgia’s Good Samaritan law is found at the Official Code of Georgia Annotated 51-1-29. Good Samaritan laws protect medical professionals and the public from liability when they voluntarily and gratuitously assist or provide care to an injured victim. They are also intended to enable those having a medical emergency or those hurt and in need, to get the help that could save their lives or protect them from further injury.

These laws are now being expanded to an epidemic that is found across our country. Most Americans are aware that thousands in our country are addicted to prescription drugs, such as opioids. Many of these individuals are vulnerable to overdoses which can lead to death. To help those who might be saved after overdosing on these drugs, many states including Georgia have taken a step to save lives.

The Georgia General Assembly has enacted a specific law that allows the public to contact emergency help for those who may have overdosed on these drugs, without fear of criminal or other liability. This means that even if there are other illegal drugs or contraband on the premises, they will not be held for these potential crimes. The law is called the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law and is helping to save lives in Georgia. Another aspect of this law protects first responders from liability in administering help or medications, such as Narcan, that can reverse an overdose for at least a period of time so that the individual can get medical care.

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This morning on the Today Show, NBC took an entire segment to talk about the unseen dangers of house fires. This timely piece on fire danger hits close to home. ESPN reported only this past Sunday that a Monroe, Georgia house fire took the life of Quentin Moses. He was not only a former Miami Dolphin, but also a defensive end and MVP 2005 for the University of Georgia. The cause of the fire is not yet reported. But tragically, not only did Mr. Moses pass away, his friend and her 10-year old child also lost their lives in this tragedy. Moses has been the assistant football coach Reinhardt University for several years. The news of his passing has clearly touched many in our community. Jason Taylor and others who knew Moses well have expressed their sorrow over the loss of life taken so young. He was 33 years of age.

It is believed that the fire may have begun in the kitchen. It may have been related to cooking or to an electrical issue. Classes were cancelled this afternoon at Reinhardt University for a celebration of Moses’ life. He was said to have inspired his student athletes with his positive attitude and wonderful smile.

The tragic loss of a young man, his friend and her daughter, perhaps could have been avoided. We do not know at this point. However, we do know that there are many many homes, in fact most homes, that are not as protected against such a tragedy as we might think.

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Alarming Data on Fatal Crash Rise

The entire country is suffering from various traffic fatality statistics that are going in the wrong direction.  Georgia is not completely immune from this trend, although some of our state statistics are slightly better than the nation’s. Georgia’s traffic fatality statistics show an overall downward trend of fatalities between 2007 through 2013. However, after five decades of decreases in traffic fatalities nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a report about a new trend upward.  Although vehicles are safer now, with features that are intended to protect vehicle occupants, and although we have sustained educational programs that are intended to make us all better drivers … the news in not good.

In the calendar year 2015, over 35,000 souls were lost on America’s roads and highways. This is an increase in fatalities of about seven percent from the prior year. Due to the severity of the increase, which has not occurred at this level since the 1960’s, NHTSA has gone on record with other major agencies and the White House in a “call to action” to beat back the potential for more tragedy. With the news of the wrong turn in fatalities, NHTSA is aligning with various interested entities and researchers to arm them with analytics reporting. The data gathered by the federal agency will help state and local governments and others to evaluate the statistics on motor vehicle fatalities going forward and to perhaps alter the trend.  Technologies are also being provided to interested agencies and researchers aimed at reducing these fatalities.

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Drowsy Driving Ends in Tragedy

The long summer days tend to make for longer driving days. This can become dangerous as drivers have more daylight to travel, but still need rest. With summer travel reaching its height and as we approach Independence Day weekend, we want to remind readers about driving while drowsy and the hazards this presents. Just this past week, the Associated Press reports that a Claxton, Georgia man lost his life when his co-worker likely fell asleep at the wheel. Sadly, the driver was allegedly warned to pull over and rest before continuing their deadly trip which ended in a head-on collision that killed five.

We may have some rare insight into what happened in this tragedy. Reportedly, a young man called his mom while traveling from Virginia back to his home in Georgia. He was heading home with two co-workers after a moving job. The young man called to say that he was worried about his colleague who was getting sleepy at the wheel. According to the mom, her son even passed the phone to the driver and she asked him to pull over at a rest stop before continuing to drive. Only a few minutes later, the driver crossed the median on Interstate 16 and struck another car. All three passengers in his vehicle passed away as did a woman and her step son who were hit by the sleepy driver. Although the mom’s account is not confirmed, the Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash and its cause.

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1175023_magnoliaThe tragic two-car crash near Athens, Georgia that took the lives of four University of Georgia students is still under investigation. Local authorities have been seeking answers to this unthinkable tragedy that has the campus and many Georgians reeling with sadness for these young lives. Authorities found no drugs or alcohol at the scene. The driver of the vehicle in which the UGA students travelled remains in critical condition. The driver of the other vehicle is not seriously harmed and made the call to 911 saying that a car had swerved in front of her vehicle. It is now thought that the driver of the vehicle that carried the now-deceased young women, might have over-corrected and lost control of her vehicle, striking the oncoming car.

Over correction is a well-known cause of accident. Often over correction involves vehicles veering off the road and can involve speeding. When a driver senses that a wheel is off the pavement or outside its lane that driver might try to steer the vehicle in the other direction, while losing control in the process. This loss of control of a vehicle sometimes causes it to slide sideways or roll over. Overcorrection accidents can result in a vehicle veering into oncoming traffic. Many have been harmed or fatally injured in over correction accidents.

There are ways to avoid the dangers of over correction, but they must be practiced to ensure they become more automatic when a situation arises. These techniques need to be a part of the education of all new drivers and experienced drivers should be reminded about them as well. These include remaining as calm as possible, avoiding braking and decelerating. Although we do not yet know for certain what caused this accident, the swerving as described by the other driver and the lack of other causes, has led authorities to suspect over correction.

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iStock_000016429140XSmallTomorrow evening at the University of Georgia, four students who lost their lives in a car accident over this past weekend will be memorialized along with all other UGA students who passed away this year. The most recent deaths have left the school stunned and in mourning. The loss of these lives hits close to home for many of us who are UGA alumi and who have traveled these roads many times over the years. As an Athens native, I have traveled this highway countless times, and I have driven and ridden on the two-laned highways leading in and out of the classic city for my entire childhood. This tragedy hits close to home. Personally, it is heartbreaking to me that the families of these girls will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. The investigation continues into exactly what happened, but that will do little to assuage the loss felt by the Athens community and the UGA family.

As the school year ends and students begin their summer break, four families, four communities and all of Georgia will be thinking about the loss of these young lives. The crash that ended the students’  lives is being investigated, but no obvious cause has been identified at this time. The sadness of this tragedy has hit home and was evident as the local authorities spoke about the tragedy.

What we do know is that the crash took place in the evening hours as the UGA students, all young women, were traveling north on Highway 15 only about 15 miles from Athens. There were five in one car. At one point in their journey, their vehicle crossed over the center line and struck another vehicle traveling south. The driver of that car was traveling alone and was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center in serious condition.

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iStock_000003411145XSmallRecently, an elderly Norcross husband and wife drove along a local road not suspecting it would be their final moments together. Their vehicle was suddenly struck by another car. Behind the wheel of that vehicle was a 17-year old teen. The auto collision was the result of a rapid and tragic series of events. The teen had come upon stop sign with a vehicle stopped at it. Apparently, to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle, he swerved his vehicle and traversed several traffic lanes hitting the elderly couple’s vehicle. The impact on the couple’s car caused it to travel across two lanes of traffic. Both the husband and the wife passed away due to injuries sustained in this auto crash.

The teen has been charged with several violations of Georgia law, including failure to obey a stop sign and reckless driving. The most severe consequences could come if the teen is indicted and convicted of vehicular homicide in the first degree. Georgia’s vehicular homicide provision is found in Official Code of Georgia Annotated provision 40-6-393 (a). In this provision, homicide by vehicle in the first degree can occur when a person is driving in a manner that results in the death of another, even if the person charged did not intend to harm anyone. The consequences of a conviction of the provision can be severe — prison for three years minimum or a 15 year maximum.

This Georgia auto crash is under investigation. But one thing is certain. The life of this teen has been changed forever. Even if he is not convicted of this crime, he will have to live with the consequences of a failure simply to stop at a stop sign. Perhaps only he knows why this was not possible.

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Texting and drivingAs we begin the new year, Georgians are looking towards a vibrant 2016. We have wound up the 2015 holiday season with friends and family. But looking back at the last year, we have some sobering news. Fatal traffic accidents in Georgia rose in 2015 for the first time since 2006. The Department of Transportation’s website calls the increase “startling” and has partnered with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Department of Public Safety to launch a campaign called DriveAlert ArriveAlive (DAAA) to focus on the issue. The hope is that educating the public and bringing attention to safety measures we all can take, will reverse this unfortunate trend. The reports indicate that, until this year, Georgia enjoyed a stabilization of the fatal accident rate in prior years.

The most likely culprit for the rise in Georgia’s fatal accidents, might well be something we have posted about in the past — single-vehicle crashes. The increase in these tragic Georgia vehicle crashes includes road departures of various kinds. Drivers involved in these crashes are often not wearing a seatbelt, are fatigued, are driving distracted or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The DriveAlertArriveAlive program is directed at these very important causes, as well as other concerns about safe driving.

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iStock_000016429140XSmallThe recent tragic accident in Clayton County in which two children were fatally injured, may have involved the brakes on their mom’s vehicle. The crash that ended their lives is heartbreaking and the community has been supportive of the family and mourning along with them. The children sustained fatal injuries when their mom’s vehicle was struck by a large truck as her vehicle entered and traveled into an intersection. The tractor trailer struck the smaller vehicle, but the authorities indicate that the truck driver actually had the right of way. The heartbroken mother apparently advised the authorities that her brakes failed or were not working properly at the time of the crash.

The community has been leaving momentos, flowers and stuffed toys in memory of the children at the site of this tragedy. The family has been surrounded with expressions of love and concern. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the community has held a vigil which the children’s mother attended. She was hurt in the crash, sustaining a broken leg, but was otherwise not hurt severely. The driver of the truck was said to have attempted to remove the children from their car after the crash, but it was too late.

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