Authorities are looking for the driver of the truck that lost a ladder in I-285 Tuesday afternoon, causing a multiple-vehicle crash that killed one person and injured two more.
Georgia State Troopers say that the driver who was carrying the ladder is liable and faces criminal charges.
“Anytime that, because of your negligence, you cause the death of somebody, you can be held criminally liable,” Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark McDonough told the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Wednesday. “In this instance, the wrongful death of another is specifically tied to the (accident). That’s what is known as vehicular homicide.”
The four-vehicle wreck, which included a jackknifed tractor-trailer, blocked all lanes of I-285 northbound at Washington Road, authorities said.
“We think a ladder fell off an unknown vehicle on 285,” East Point police spokesman Lt. Cliff Chandler told The AJC. The first vehicle hit the ladder and was disabled, then that vehicle was hit by others, including the tractor-trailer, he said.
The person in the first vehicle was killed, Chandler said. Two others were injured, with one of them transported to a hospital, he said.
No names of the victims have been released, and no description of the vehicle causing the accident was available.
Law enforcement officials are now looking for the driver of the truck that was carrying the ladder, and will use clues from the ladder to pinpoint the owner.
“Troopers are going to run down what caused the accident,” McDonough said. “Most things that have been purchased recently have a bar code that shows who bought it, when it was purchased and where it was purchased.”
He advised the driver who lost the ladder to turn him- or herself in to authorities.
“That would be easiest for everybody involved,” the top Georgia Trooper said.
There were heavy traffic delays during rush hour. Just before 5 p.m., the right lane of I-285 was opened. By 7 p.m., all lanes were clear.
McDonough offered some advice for drivers — both those carrying potentially dangerous loads and generally, so that everyone on the road can avoid the kind of chain reaction wreck that happened Tuesday.
“If you’re hauling a load, make sure that you strap it down well,” he said. “And if you’re on the highway or the road, don’t drive so close to other cars, and leave some room … leave a way out in case vehicles around you lose control, so you have a way to avoid a collision.”