Only 12 minutes separated fatal crashes
By Beth Alston
AMERICUS — Heavy rain was falling on Sumter County Friday afternoon when first one, then another traffic crash was reported.
Scanner traffic was brisk. The accident on 49, called in at 2:07 p.m., was first thought to be without injuries but later it was learned “an elderly man” had sustained facial injuries. Calls went out for help in extricating one patient. At one point, someone was heard on the air saying, “there are bodies everywhere.” A dispatcher then asked for the coroner to come to the site.
The 49 crash claimed the life of Michael T. Feltman, 58, of Smithville, who was dead at the scene, according to Sumter County Coroner Greg Hancock. Four others were injured and transported for treatment by EMS.
The 49 accident is still under investigation by the Georgia State Patrol’s SCRT, an investigative team which reconstructs accidents.
Then, 12 minutes later, another three-vehicle crash was reported on U.S. Highway East near Crumpton Drive. Traffic was closed in that area for almost three hours due to the accident.
Georgia State Patrol Post 10, Americus, responded to both crashes.
According to the accident report, Ronald E. Thomas, 64, of DeSoto was pronounced dead at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center after sustaining injuries in that crash.
Thomas, driving a Ford Focus, was traveling west on 280 while a GMC Yukon driven by Milton Perry, 60, of Americus, and a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Jean L. Calhoun of Cordele, were both traveling east.
The report says Thomas’ Focus hydroplaned and crossed the center line, traveling into the eastbound lane into the path of the Yukon SUV. The Yukon struck the Focus in the right front with its left front. The Focus rotated counterclockwise into the path of the Silverado truck which struck the Focus in the left side doors with its front. The area of impact was in the eastbound lanes.
After the second impact, the Focus came to an uncontrolled rest blocking the eastbound lane of 280, facing northeast. The Yukon traveled off the roadway into a ditch south of 280 coming to an uncontrolled rest in a ditch facing east. The Silverado ran off the roadway onto the south shoulder and came to rest facing east, the report states.
Thomas, driver of the Focus, was trapped in the wreckage and extricated by emergency personnel. In addition to the fatality, there were four injuries, including the other two drivers and two passengers in the Silverado: Cody R. Getz, 44, of Unadilla and Jesse R. Laurin, 31, of Cordele.
According to the accident report, all the drivers and passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, except Thomas, which is unknown.
The investigating trooper, Cpl. Allen Storey, said the Focus had “slick tires” which contributed to the crash.