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Investigation continues in deadly I-20 accident
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Investigation continues in deadly I-20 accident

Child killed, several hurt in Douglas County wreck

Investigation continues in deadly I-20 accident

Police are still working out the details in a tragic accident Friday evening in Douglas County that killed a child and sent four more to the hospital.

Police say a woman driving an SUV on I-20 flipped the vehicle several times, apparently while trying to make a last-minute exit at Ga. 92 in Douglasville. Jamal Lewis, 7, died at the scene, one of several children ejected from the vehicle in the accident.

The scene was tough even for the most veteran police officers.

“We’ve got officers here that have been here 20 years and it’s the worst accident they have seen,” Douglasville Police Lt. Greg Weaver said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that they were children.”

Jamal’s sisters, 14-year-old Santerria Lewis and 5-year-old Jasmine Lewis, were seriously injured.

Their great-aunt, Coutney Watson of Atlanta, said Jasmine was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and underwent surgery Saturday for a broken pelvis and other injuries. Children’s Healthcare spokeswoman Patty Gregory said Jasmine is in serious condition, and Watson said doctors expect her to live.

“Jasmine is doing very well. She’s alert,” Watson said. “She didn’t have any head injuries, so that’s a good thing.”

The news is graver for Santerria, who is on life support at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Watson said doctors have told the children’s mother, Erica Lewis, to prepare for the worst. Gregory said Santerria is in critical condition.

Watson said her niece, mother of six, is “devastated.”

“She’s back and forth from hospital to hospital,” she said. “She stayed with Jasmine last night.”

Updates on the conditions of the two other girls, 15 and 13, were not immediately available. Watson said the driver and the 15-year-old girl, who rode in the front passenger seat, apparently were the only ones wearing seat belts.

The driver, whose name has not been released, is a family friend. Weaver of the Douglasville police could not confirm whether the children were wearing seat belts, as the investigation is still continuing.

No charges have been filed.

“I don’t know if they will be,” Weaver said. “Our main concern is checking on the children’s injuries. We had investigators at the hospitals and then back out at the scene. … Charges, if they were to come, would be something that would come down the road.”

Watson said the family is in the process of setting up a fund for the children’s medical bills with a local bank. None of the children had insurance.

Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home in Atlanta is in charge of arrangements for Jamal Lewis. Details are pending.

The accident was one of nine wrecks across the region that killed 10 metro residents over the weekend:

  • Friday evening, Shawn Head, 46, of Winston, died when he lost control of his motorcycle and left the road on Cobb Parkway near Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta.
  • Also Friday night, motorcyclists Kendrick Brown, 38, of Smyrna, and William Small, 48, of Lithia Springs, were killed when they struck a stopped car on I-285 southbound between Camp Creek Parkway and Washington Road. A third motorcyclist, 43-year-old Vernon Christopher Bliss of Douglasville, was injured in the accident.
  • Shortly after midnight Saturday morning, a 52-year-old man was struck and killed while riding a bicycle on Ga. 6 near Wayside Lane in Paulding County. Police say the man, whose name has not been released, was struck by a car driven by Lindsay Harris, 20 of Hiram.
  • Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Sarah Howell, 28 of Alpharetta, died when she was thrown from the back of a motorcycle on Ga. 400 northbound. Her brother, David Neil Howell, was driving the motorcycle when police said he apparently clipped a wall near Mansell Road. David Howell was arrested and charged with DUI, first-degree vehicular homicide and related charges. Investigators are looking for a 2005 black Jeep Liberty involved in the accident.
  • Austin Walker Pope, 16, was killed around 3 a.m. Saturday in a single-vehicle wreck in Coweta County. The 1998 Toyota 4-Runner, driven by 17-year-old Brian Shelnutt of Newnan, overturned several times, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Shelnut and two other teens in the vehicle were injured.
  • At 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning, 39-year-old Faruq Muhammed of Atlanta lost control of his vehicle while changing lanes on I-285 southbound near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and flipped it several times. Muhammed died en route to a hospital.
  • In addition, Jarrett Lee Williams, 18 of Dallas, died Friday on I-75 in Whitfield County when his Suzuki Sidekick suffered a blown left rear tire, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and hit a tree.
  • Rodney Alan Bradberry, 32, of Griffin, was killed around 5 a.m. Sunday on County Line Road near Hoppin Branch Road in Spalding County when his 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup crossed the center line and left the roadway. Both Bradberry and his passenger, 32-year-old Dustin Chad Hallman of Griffin, were ejected from the truck. Bradberry died at the scene and Griffin was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center. Police said neither man was wearing a seatbelt.

 

—Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.

Read More

News

  • A 22-year-old police officer died in Oklahoma on Monday morning after he and a man exchanged gunfire when the man ran during a traffic stop Sunday night, Tecumseh police said. >> Read more trending news The officer, identified as 22-year-old Justin Terney, died of his injuries. The suspected gunman remained hospitalized Monday morning. Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said Terney was shot multiple times after stopping a vehicle around 11:30 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of Benson Park Road and Gordon Cooper Drive. Kidney said Terney was working with dispatchers to verify information given by one of the vehicle’s passengers, a man, after becoming suspicious that he might have been giving Terney false information. As dispatchers were telling Terney that it appeared the man had an active warrant for his arrest, the man ran from the stopped vehicle and toward nearby woods, Kidney said. Terney fired a stun gun at the man. “The (stun gun) doesn’t have any effect on (the suspect) and he continues running through a wooded area, over a fence,” Kidney said. “About 25 yards inside that fence area, the officer and the suspect both exchanged gunfire.” Authorities took both the suspect, whose identity was not immediately known, and Terney to a hospital, where Terney underwent surgery for hours overnight. Kidney confirmed that Terney, who had been shot about three times, died Monday morning. The suspected gunman remained in intensive care with four gunshot wounds, according to KFOR. Terney joined Tecumseh’s police force about a year ago. “My department’s not doing good,” Kidney said Monday morning, adding that in the 22 years he has been with the department and the 38 years the chief has been with the department, this is the first officer-involved shooting for Tecumseh police. “We haven’t had to live through this yet,” he said. “We need everybody to rally around and support us.”
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  • Police have found no evidence that the man who killed four people in London last week was associated with the Islamic State group or al-Qaida, a senior British counterterrorism officer said Monday. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police said Westminster attacker Khalid Masood clearly had 'an interest in jihad,' but police have no indication he discussed his attack plans with others. Basu, who also serves as Britain's senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, said Wednesday's attack — in which Masood ran down pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman guarding Parliament — 'appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks.' Masood was shot dead by police after his deadly rampage, which police have revealed lasted just 82 seconds. Police believe Masood — a 52-year-old Briton with convictions for violence who had spent several years in Saudi Arabia — acted alone, but are trying to determine whether others helped inspire or direct his actions. Detectives on Monday continued to question a 30-year-old man arrested Sunday and a 58-year-old man arrested shortly after Wednesday's attack. Both were detained in the central England city of Birmingham, where Masood had recently lived. Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that Masood was 'a peripheral figure' in an investigation into violent extremism some years ago. But Basu said he was not a 'subject of interest' for counterterrorism police or the intelligence services before last week's attack. Masood was born Adrian Elms, but changed his name in 2005, suggesting a conversion to Islam. Basu said there was no sign Masood was radicalized during one of his stints in prison, the last of which was in 2003. 'I know when, where and how Masood committed his atrocities, but now I need to know why,' Basu said. 'Most importantly, so do the victims and families.' As Basu appealed for anyone who spoke to Masood on the day of the attack to come forward, the British government repeated calls for tech companies to give police and intelligence services access to encrypted messages exchanged by terrorism suspects. Masood used the messaging service WhatsApp just before he began his attack. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that such services must not 'provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.' Tech companies have strongly resisted previous calls to create back-doors into encrypted messaging, arguing that to do so would compromise the secure communications underpinning everything from shopping to tax returns to online banking. Rudd is due to hold a previously scheduled meeting with internet companies on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said tech firms 'should be helping us more' to prevent terrorism. 'The ball is now in their court,' he said. Slack said that if agreement was not reached with the companies, the government 'rules nothing out,' including legislation. Meanwhile, the families of the dead and injured set about the difficult task of going on with their lives. The family of an American victim expressed gratitude Monday for the kindness of strangers as they insisted some good would come from the tragedy. A dozen members of Kurt W. Cochran's family gathered to face the media, sharing their shock and sense of loss. Cochran, from Utah, was on the last day of a European trip celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary when he was killed on Westminster Bridge. Cochran's wife, Melissa, suffered a broken leg and rib and a cut head, but is steadily improving. The family offered profuse thanks to first responders, British and American authorities and people who had sent notes, prayer and donations. 'Last night we were speaking as a family about all this, and it was unanimous that none of us harbor any ill will or harsh feelings towards this,' Sarah McFarland, Melissa Cochran's sister, said. 'So we love our brother. We love what he brought to the world, and we feel like that this situation is going to bring many good things to the world.' ___ Jonathan Shenfield contributed to this story.