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.