Where Can I Find My Georgia Car Accident Report

April 7, 2014


So, you have been in a car or truck accident. How do you obtain the police report? Assuming that your wreck occurred on public property, an officer has investigated the collision, made findings, assigned fault and provided you with a business card as to where/when/how you can retrieve your report after it has been finalized by the supervising officer. In the past, the report could be ready in three to five days by physically driving to the investigating police station, paying anywhere from 50 cents per page to a flat fee of $5.00, and providing your name, date of collision and site of collision to the records department. Usually the report was picked up by the at-fault and innocent parties, and perhaps their attorney and/or auto insurance company.

Nowadays, the process of obtaining an accident report has dramatically changed. And, the parties involved in that process are new--and determined to make a profit. Specifically, about four years ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation entered into a contract to sell crash reports to a for-profit, foreign corporation based in Kentucky identified as Appriss. This company operates and runs Buycrash.com.

Accident reports through Buycrash.com sell for $11.00 per report. Although state law limits the cost of such reports to the actual price of preparing the report. However, I find it hard to believe that the cost of preparing the report is more than twice the price than it was in the past. But, there are more players involved at each step of the process than gets a cut of this $11.00 buy: Georgia Department of Transportation, the specific investigating police entity and Appriss. Reports continue to arise that Georgia motorists and passengers feel they are misled as who exactly makes money from this site. The exact procedure of how the $11.00 is carved amongst these three (3) entities is unknown; however, it has been reported that local referring police agency to the website receives a sum of $2-$5 per report downloaded at Buycrash.com.

Prior to Buycrash.com, Georgia taxpayers were spending approximately $900,000.00 on an annual basis for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to prepare, manage and make over 380,000 reports available. Since the public-private contract with Appriss, Georgia has eliminated about 20 associated jobs at the GDOT.

To use Buycrash.com effectively, the user must fit within a certain class such as: 1) an individual with a personal, professional or business connection to the party to the car/truck accident; 2) an owner or leasor of the property damaged in the accident; 3) a person injured or allegedly injured in the accident; 4) a witness to the accident; 5) the insurance company that insured the party to the wreck or the property damaged in the crash; 6) a prosecutor or law enforcement officer; 7) a person allegedly liable to a person for causing the accident; 8) an attorney investigating a criminal aspect of the accident or an investigation into a roadway, railroad crossing or unsafe intersection or 9) a representative of a news media organization.

If you fit within the class of users described above, then you still need to know certain information about the accident to input into the website to actually find the report. The information required is the last name of the party/parties to the wreck, the date of the collision and the identify of the investigating police organization (e.g. Clayton County Police Department; Georgia State Patrol Post 48). Once the correct identifying information is keyed into the website, Buycrash.com will pull the desired report for purchase by credit/debit card and present you with a high quality document to print and/or save to your computer.

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How long does it take to get to a Personal Injury Case to Trial In Georgia

March 14, 2014


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Atlanta Car Collisions in the Snow and Ice

February 12, 2014

In late January 2014, Greater Atlanta and the surrounding areas experienced a storm that brought snow and ice to the roads. The estimate for snow was two inches. The estimate for ice that formed afterwards was unknown. The result was chaos.

Tractor-trailers ignored regulation and attempted to come through the city and blocked up lanes. Schools seemingly all closed at the same time with parents rushing to the streets to pick up the children. Businesses and government offices were not far behind. On that day, it was not uncommon to travel five to seven miles in four to five hours.

I spent a good portion of the night helping to push stuck cars up Roswell Road in Buckhead. Neighbors came to our assistance and brought coffee and food. I asked an Atlanta Police officer to help, but he declined due to potential liability concerns. Later, an unmarked police vehicle was slamming his horn and using his speaker to tell us (the volunteers) to move a truck out of the road. This police officer didn't bother to help.

I witnessed vehicles and trucks sliding into each other on declines and on inclines. Toward 8 p.m., a lot of folks were leaving their vehicles parked in shopping center lots, neighborhood streets and the main street (Roswell Road). I saw vehicles collide with other vehicles while attempting to maneuver on side streets to snag a choice parking spot.

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September 24, 2013


What are the odds that six of seven drivers involved in a chain reaction car wreck in Clayton County, Ga., were driving under the influence? At a simple glance, 86 percent of the drivers. Unfortunately, I do not have access to data to crunch the numerical statistics of how often these variables exist at one time in the United States. However, the number has to be quite, quite low.

Granted, it was a holiday weekend and motorists had free time to travel, see loved ones and friends, to mix and mingle and perhaps.... imbibe a little alcohol. It was with this possible intention in mind that we come to know the facts of the pile-up that took place around 3 a.m. on July 3, 2013, on or around I-75 at C.W. Grant Parkway--north of I-285 close to the exit near the international concourse of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Of course, the facts are not complete without mentioning that this chain reaction pile up was allegedly caused by pedestrian that walked or ran onto the southbound lane of I-75 and was promptly struck by the first car.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the wayward pedestrian caused the first vehicle to slow or stop, which proximately resulted in the other six vehicles directly behind it to subsequently crash into the rear-end of each respective vehicle. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital in critical condition and charged with a violation of pedestrian entering the roadway. Six of the motorists were charged with driving under the influence and of these six motorists, two were also charged with following too closely. I think it can be fair to say that speed and decreased reaction time due to alcohol intake were factors in this incident.

Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), drunk(en) driving, drunk driving, operator under the influence, drinking and driving, impaired driving or driving to the extent less safe are crimes associated with operating and driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol that are in excess of a legal limit. A review of Georgia DUI laws can be found here as promulgated by the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety. The prominent and most widely used DUI law connected with the operation of a motor vehicles in Georgia is O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 that sets forth the grounds for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances. As a majority of the motorists were charged with a DUI violation, it is presumed that the motorists either submitted to an alco-sensor at the scene, failed field sobriety tests, refused testing completely and/or consented to a blood alcohol test.


Woman Paralyzed After Fall At Buckhead Bar

August 21, 2013

Wet Willies is a frozen daiquiri bar and restaurant concept that is franchised throughout the Southeast with 14 locations. The concept is simple: provide frozen alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks/daiquiris, as well as food, to the public. One such Wet Willies bar is located in Buckhead, the uptown district in Atlanta considered to be one of the major financial and commercial centers in the southeastern United States. This particular Wet Willies location is popular and frequented by young African Americans in Atlanta.

If you have never been to a Wet Willies, it is similar to a Fat Tuesday or a Pineapple Willy's, where the available frozen drinks are lined up in see through metal tanks in a row behind the bar. Some of these frozen concoctions have catchy monikers that aim to indicate the strength of the alcohol (i.e. grain alcohol) in the drink. Having personally been to such an establishment, it is easy to become unknowingly inebriated from the sweet frozen libations over a short period of time depending upon your consumption.

On August 3, 2013, according to an AJC article, a young woman was at the Buckhead Wet Willies with her sister and perhaps, other friends. An unknown male came up to this woman and attempted to lift her up by her waist several times. However, the woman continuously told the man to stop. At some point, the man was successful in lifting her up. Unfortunately, the man dropped the woman on her head and fell on top on her. Consequently, the woman was unable to move her arms or her legs on the floor. She was transported by an ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center where she was treated for paralysis and other injuries. Three days later, the woman's sister reported the incident to the Atlanta Police Department and the investigation is ongoing with zero suspects.

The question remains as to what options the innocent victim may have against the assailant and/or the Wet Willies franchise. Simply put, if the man is identified, then the victim may file suit against him for compensation for her bills, injuries, pain and suffering, and perhaps punitive damages under O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1 (if the facts indicate that the man's actions showed "...willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences."

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New Trucking Regulations Decrease Trucker Fatigue Today


An announcement today by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirms that new federal regulations go into effect today, July 1, 2013. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, former congressman from Peoria, Ill., stated that "[t]hese rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads" and that [s]afety is our highest priority." In short, the new regulations were designed to prevent truckers from becoming tired and fatigued on their trucking routes across America.

Now, any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is subject to these new regulations. A CMV is defined as any vehicle used in business that travels interstate (across state lines) and matches one of the following descriptions:
• weighs 10,001 pounds or more;
• has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight or 10,001 pounds or more;
• is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) for financial compensation; or
• is operating in interstate or intrastate (within a single state) commerce and is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring signage.

The regulations that became effective today were published back in December 2011 in order to give trucking companies and their employees time to digest the hour of service and related rules, and work toward their implementation and enforcement. The effective date of the regulations was February of 2012 and today is the actual day of compliance. The argument for these rules is that unregulated trucker operation of CMVs without hours of service would lead to more truck crashes, driver fatigue and chronic health problems. The FCMSA has stated that these rules are the product of years of research and truck driver input and should "save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year."

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One Drink Minimum for Drivers Is Coming To A State Near You


Over the past 10 years, the standard or benchmark for determining whether a motorist is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol has been set at 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC); although, this standard is not applicable to commercial and tractor trailer drivers who are subject to 0.04 BAC. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) promulgated this benchmark.

The NTSB is a U.S. government investigative agency that was formed in 1967. Allegedly, the NTSB is an "independent group" that is primarily responsible for the investigation of transportation accidents including airplanes, boats, trains, pipelines and vehicles, among others. The NTSB is composed of five members that are nominated by the President of the United States (POTUS) and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for five-year terms. No more than three of the five members can be from the same political party. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the NTSB is its safety recommendation(s). The NTSB has advocated more than 13,000 recommendations in its timeline - most of these recommendations have been accepted and adopted - including the previous recommendation of 0.08 BAC for motorists.

States and other governmental entities adopt the recommendations of the NTSB because the NTSB is backed by the purse strings of the federal government. In other words, if any state rejects the new proposed 0.05 BAC benchmark for DUI drivers, then that state risks losing federal highway funding.

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Tire Kills Woman on I-85

April 29, 2013


I am not a mechanic. However, I have been driving cars for more than 30 years and have been around a shop once or twice. Recently, an Atlanta mother died when a motorist's wheel (rim and all) allegedly came off his vehicle and crushed the roof of the mother's vehicle causing instant death.

Most motorists don't pay attention to their tires unless they see a little yellow light on their dashboard alerting them to low pressure. I believe the same conclusion applies to motorists who actually rotate (front to the back and back to the front) their tires. But - I digress.

The question is how does a wheel disengage from a moving vehicle. Let's start by covering the bases of how a tire might blow or rip from the rim. If a tire is underinflated, then the tire has more surface area flat on the road surface while still keeping the chassis suspended on four wheels. In this situation, the tire can flex beyond its elastic limit and overheat and blowout. By contrast, an overinflated tire combined with longstanding tire wear or a poor retread could lead to a blowout. When a tire is overinflated, the tire tread does not adequately grip the road as less tire tread lies flat on the road. Over time, an overinflated tire can lead to a blow out. Yet, these situations don't account for a complete wheel and rim coming off a moving vehicle.

Here are the basics. A tire is fit around a metal rim. Between the rim and the tire is oxygen or nitrogen that helps fit and secures the tire to the rim. The metal rim is secured to the car by several lug nuts. Additionally, some older vehicles have wheel ball bearings (steel bars held together by a metal ring) that need to be replaced or re-greased over the lifetime of the vehicle. Newer model vehicles have ball bearings that are sealed and do not need any maintenance. The wheel bearings (set of ball bearings) help support the wheel and ride on the axle shaft. The wheel bearing is located at the hub in the center of the wheel. The hub is located where the lug bolts come through the wheel.

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Woman Attempts To Elude DUI In Toy Truck

March 13, 2013


This is not just another shocking headline; unfortunately, there was indeed a woman who resided in Craighead County, Ark., who tried to escape from the police using a child's battery operated toy truck. To provide some background, Craighead County is located in the far northeast portion of the state and has a population just shy of 100,000 people. This county is composed of two county seats: Jonesboro and Lake City, where the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by law. This incident occurred in Jonesboro.

Now to proceed to the facts of the crime. On March 3, 2013, around 5:30 p.m., 29-year-old Jamie Jeannette Craft was operating a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am on the streets of Craighead County. Just prior to the accident, Ms. Craft was traveling in excess of the speed limit and had no regard for the safety of others or their property. She sped around a corner and collided into a stationary mobile home under the panel of said trailer.

Could things actually get worse for the young Ms. Craft? Always crafty on her feet, she got out of her vehicle and immediately grabbed the adolescent daughter of a nearby witness and proceeded to step into battery operated Powers Wheel truck to commence her getaway. Looking ever conspicuous in her white sweatshirt sans pants and shoes, Ms. Craft was still trying to determine how to operate the toy truck when the witness took his daughter inside his home.

The witness then came back outside with his son (owner of the toy truck) and forced Ms. Craft to exit said vehicle at which point Ms. Craft started to scream and made a beeline for her mother's mobile home. When police arrived, they had to hold Ms. Craft up by the shoulders and administer a portable Breathalyzer test, which registered a 0.217 blood alcohol content (BAC); this is three times the legal limit.

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The Number One Killer Of Teens

February 28, 2013


According to several studies, the number one cause of death among teenagers is driving a motor vehicle. In fact, car wrecks account for 25 percent of teen deaths per year. It is estimated that enough teenagers die each year to fill the halls of one to two large high schools.

The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report in February of 2013 that reflected that teenage deaths were up almost 20 percent between the first six months of 2011 and the first six months of 2012. If the final six months of 2012 remain statistically consistent with the past data, then 2012 is the second year in a row of increases in teenager driving related deaths.

According to the same report, Georgia had six teenagers die in the first six months of 2011 and five in the first six months of 2012 for a net of -1. Other states, such as Illinois and Texas have a much higher rate of teenage fatalities. For example, Illinois had 12 deaths over the same period and Texas had 30. It is easy to recognize that Illinois is currently in a serious fiscal situation and Texas has a much larger population as a whole.

Some causes attributed to the rise of deaths include a healthy economy and driver licensing laws. I also believe that the rise of cell phones along with the temptation of teens to stay in touch whenever and wherever with their peers while operating a car is another newsworthy cause. It has been argued that as the economy strengthens, more teenagers are able to drive vehicles in greater numbers on the roadways of America. I assume with more money in their pocket, teenagers are more prone to discretionary driving despite higher or lower gas prices. I am sure that a poor economy affected the number of teenagers actually applying for licenses and the amount of driving. And, states that have seen reduced revenues in the past are pumping less money into driver licensing laws for teenagers, which lead to fewer drivers' education and programs.
Among teenage car accidents, a pattern has emerged. Typically, teen crashes occur with a group of teens generally driving with no set destination or purpose at night without seatbelts and in excess of the posted speed limit. The incidence of teenage driver crashes increases with more than one passenger, particularly if such passengers are male. The pattern reflects poor driving habits of teenagers.

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Steering Wheel Grip: Time For An Update

January 24, 2013


I learned how to drive a car by operating a Honda Civic with a manual transmission near the cornfields of Central Illinois in the early 1980s. As I recall, my father always told me to imagine that the steering wheel was a clock and I should grip the steering wheel at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position to maximize control and quick maneuverability. So...that was the way I was taught; that was the way I drove; and that is way I continue to do it today.

The Honda Civic had power steering. The 1952 Chrysler Imperial was the first passenger vehicle to have power steering, and the technology became widely available in cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In short, the technological invention made it easier to turn the steering wheel with little effort; particularly, when the car was slowing or stopped. I remember that driving a car without power steering became a chore and took a good deal of muscular exertion with every turn.

Now, I drive a SUV and a Ford pickup, both of which have power steering. The SUV also has a faux wood steering wheel that needs to be gripped tightly. Up until yesterday, I was driving that car using the old 10 o'clock 2 o'clock position. However, today, I read an article that references a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) that concludes that this grip technique is not only incorrect but dangerous as well. State Farm and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both made this determination as well.

Apparently, in the days of yore before power steering, the "10 and 2" position enabled a motorist to exert more control by pulling down on the side of the steering wheel to enable a turn. However, most--if not all--cars produced today are equipped with power steering and the wheel does not require such force or placement of the hands.

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Dallas Cowboy Football Player Kills Fellow Player In Car Accident

December 8, 2012


John Brent, a young, athletically gifted man from Illinois, parlayed a successful college football career at the University of Illinois into a spot on the coveted Dallas Cowboys football team. Brent left after his junior year of college and entered the supplemental draft when he was taken in the 7th round by the Cowboys.

While at the University of Illinois, Brent was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding on a suspended license in 2009 and placed on probation, which he completed in July of 2011. Fast forward to the present. Brent was driving his fellow teammate, Jerry Brown, in the early morning in a Dallas suburb just hours before Brent was to board the team plane to game in Cincinnati against the Bengals yesterday.

According to the facts as collected by the Irving, Texas, police department, Brent was speeding in his Mercedes above the 45 mph zone when his vehicle struck a curb, flipped and came to a rest upside down. Consequently, a small fire ensued which was later put out by the police. Brent dragged Jerry Brown from the vehicle as the police arrived at the scene.

Brent was cooperative with the investigating police, yet he failed a field sobriety test (i.e. walking a straight line, eye gaze test). At that point, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. After Brown died from the injuries in the wreck, the criminal charge against Brent was upgraded to intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony in Texas subject to imprisonment from two to 20 years.

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Dropped Cell Phone In Car Leads to Fatality

November 6, 2012


In my 20 years of practice, I have seen motorists cause collisions in numerous ways: allergic sneezes; falling asleep at the wheel; being under the influence of drugs or alcohol; trying to beat a traffic control light or another vehicle at an intersection; speeding and faulty brakes, among others.

Over this period of time, mobile phones entered the marketplace and this new invention has caused significant impact on today's motorists. Initially, these phones were large and cumbersome and did not adapt well to automobiles due to limited coverage, size or battery power. As time went on and technology improved, it was possible to bring a small cell phone into the car and operate as motorists traveled down roads. Then, the cell phone evolved into a smartphone, which allowed a motorist to text messages to others as well as speak while operating a vehicle. And...in my opinion...the ability to text while driving has caused a large upswing in car accidents today.

I have blogged about the dangers of cell phones and driving here, here and here. Today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published another online article regarding a car collision caused by the use of a cell phone. Earlier this morning, an older gentleman from Henry County, Ga., was killed as the proximate cause of a young motorist who lost control of her vehicle as she voluntarily took her eyes off the highway to the floor of her car to retrieve a dropped cell phone.

According to the article, 18-year-old Selena Gonzalez of Seffner, Fla., was driving southbound on I-75 near Tampa, Fla., when she dropped her cell phone on the floor of her vehicle. When Ms. Gonzalez took her eyes off the road and reached down for several seconds to retrieve her phone, her Ford Expedition moved over to the shoulder of the road. As Ms. Gonzalez brought her gaze back to the highway, she attempted to steer her vehicle back onto the road and overcorrected, which caused her Expedition to flip several times before it came to rest facing east in the middle lane. At that point, Ms. Gonzalez exited her vehicle on a national highway in the middle lane and attempted to call 911 when another vehicle also traveling southbound on I-75--a Chevrolet Suburban operated by the motorist from Henry County--collided into Gonzalez's vehicle. A short time later, a freight truck traveling in the same southerly direction struck the driver's side of the Suburban killing the driver. The driver of the freight truck and Ms. Gonzalez were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

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Stop Teens From Texting and Driving: There's An App For That

September 24, 2012


A major manufacturer/developer/distributor of smartphones has now developed a free smartphone app to help teens decrease and/or completely stop texting while operating a motor vehicle. On September 19, 2012, AT&T celebrated national "No text on Board Pledge Day" at a local high school in Atlanta that was attended to by an impressive gathering of law enforcement officers, state and city government officials, private sector leaders and teenagers.

In essence, the event promoted abstinence of texting while driving and reinforcing the notion that a text can wait. The event also included a simulator that allowed teenagers to get behind the wheel and experience the hazard of texting while operating a motor vehicle. As the simulator demonstrated, it is virtually impossible to do both at the same time and expect safe results. The students wore virtual reality goggles, sat in a stationary car and were required to text, steer and/or brake - pretty much at the same time. Considering that more than 100,000 car crashes occur each year due to texting and driving (source: the National Safety Council), this is welcome news.

The number one method of communication between and amongst teens is texting via a smartphone. The article estimates that today's teenagers (persons between the ages of 12 and 17 years old) text 60 times a day on average. This average is up from 50 times a day in 2009. The time spent in receipt or composing a text while operating a vehicle is an average of 4.6 seconds. Depending on the speed that the texter is driving, the feet per second traveled varies. For example, if the teenager is driving at 70 mph, the maximum speed allowed on most state highways, the teen has travel approximately 102.667 feet per second for a grand total of 472.2682 feet over 4.6 seconds which is roughly 1.3 x the length of an American football field. That is a lot of ground to cover in such a short period. Of course, the ground covered is essentially in a blind state by the teenager. Cornerbacks covering wide receivers should be so unlucky.

A survey by A&TT reflects that: 75 percent of teens text while driving; 89 percent of teens expect a reply text or e-mail within the time frame of five minutes or less; and 77 percent of teens witness their parents text while the parents are driving an automobile. These are sobering statistics indeed and the fact that the percentage is so high regarding parents' use of smartphones while operating a motor vehicle is frightening. More so, when you think that teenagers look up to their parents for guidance and leadership. It appears that parents should've accompanied their children to this event for a ride in the simulator.

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Hit and Run Driver Kills 30-Year-Old Motorcyclist in Atlanta

September 10, 2012


Hit-and-Run collisions are common in Greater Atlanta. Too often, the reason behind a hit-and-run collision is due to the fact that the motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and does not want to stick around for the police and get arrested. In my law practice, I have handled many hit-and-run crashes where the hit-and-run motorists had outstanding criminal warrants or were illegal aliens at the time of the accident.

Another hit-and-run fatality occurred this past Sunday night on Moreland Avenue and South River Industrial Drive in DeKalb County. Tony Smith was operating a Chevrolet Camaro northbound and chose to make a left turn in front of a southbound motorcyclist driven by 30-year-old Jose Santiago-Maldonado. Consequently, Mr. Smith struck Mr. Santiago-Maldonado at a high rate of speed.

According to the article, the eyewitness L.C. Wheat stated that the strength of the impact sent the motorcyclist and motorcycle in the air. Mr. Wheat took note that Mr. Smith, the driver of the Camaro, failed to stop at the scene of the crash and fled the scene of the collision. Mr. Wheat followed Mr. Smith for over several miles and led police to the vicinity where they were able to take Mr. Smith into custody and arrest. Mr. Smith denied being involved in the collision; however, Mr. Smith was unable to refute Mr. Wheat's first hand witness testimony that he was the operator of the Camaro.

As a result of the injuries sustained in the collision, Mr. Santiago-Maldonaldo died. Our condolences are extended to the family of Mr. Santiago-Maldonaldo. It was unclear if he was pronounced dead at the scene or transferred to the hospital for emergent care. It was not apparent if Mr. Santiago-Maldonado was wearing a helmet. Frankly, after seeing the pictures of the extensive property damage to the motorcycle, I am not so sure that a helmet would have made any difference. Operating a vehicle in Atlanta is dangerous but operating a motorcycle in Atlanta is even more so.

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