Three people died in a head-on collision on Ga. Hwy. 211 in Barrow County on Sunday, after Braselton police said one of its officers tried to stop a speeding vehicle.
(Photo courtsey of WSBTV, Atlanta.)
Braselton assistant police chief Lou Solis said a town officer was patrolling at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 124 and Hwy. 211 in the town limits shortly before 10 p.m. when he noticed a black 1993 Camaro driving more than 100 m.p.h. on Hwy. 211, toward Winder. The officer then noticed that the Camaro was passing vehicles on the left side of the road as it sped down the state highway, Solis. The Braselton officer started his blue lights and followed the Camaro while driving an estimated 85 m.p.h. Solis said the officer asked dispatch several times for authorities in Barrow County and Winder to assist him. But just a short distance after the Barrow County School’s Performance Learning Center (formerly County Line Elementary School), the Camaro struck a 2004 Dodge Neon. The driver of the Camaro, Gregory King, 22, Statham, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene, Solis said. A passenger in the Camaro, Bethany Fox, 23, Winder, died as a result of her injuries early Monday morning at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he said. A second passenger, Alan Hutton, 19, Winder, was flown by helicopter to Grady, where he remained in critical condition, Solis said. In the Neon, Patricia Griffin, 21, Lawrenceville, died of her injuries while being taken to Grady, Solis said. A passenger in the Neon, Nicolette Joyner, 21, Winder, was taken to Barrow Regional Medical Center, but was being transferred to Gwinnett Medical Center for surgery, Solis said on Monday afternoon. ‘NOT A CHASE’ Solis defended the decision by the Braselton officer to follow the Camaro, saying the incident was not a police “chase.” Solis contends that since the Braselton officer did not try to initiate a traffic stop before the Camaro started speeding, it was not a police chase. “The car was traveling at a high rate of speed,” Solis said. “He had to catch up to him.” Solis said the officer was following the Braselton Police Department’s policy when it comes to such high-speed pursuits. The officer determined that since the Camaro was passing traffic on the left side of the road and speeding, it was a danger to other vehicles, Solis said. The officer started his blue lights to warn other drivers of the Camaro, while trying to make a traffic stop on the vehicle, he added. “The officer did everything by the book,” Solis said. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the incident, including a review of video from the officer’s patrol vehicle, Solis said. Meanwhile, the officer has not been placed on administrative leave. Solis said the officer has a clean record and came to Braselton from DeKalb County, where he has extensive knowledge in identifying potential DUI drivers. Braselton police learned several hours after the collision that in the Camaro, driver King had two probation violations in Barrow County and passenger Fox had two warrants issued in Barrow County, Solis said. The two may have been romantically linked, he added. Soils said King borrowed the Camaro from a friend and police don’t know what King was doing before the incident. Sunday’s collision occurred less than one mile from where two people were killed in a multiple vehicle accident on Hwy. 211 last week.