LAGRANGE, Ga. - A driver ignoring a no-passing zone on a west Georgia highway crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another car, killing himself and four others, including a 1-year-old boy, the Georgia State Patrol said Saturday.
The deadly crash Friday night in LaGrange, near the Alabama state line, also injured two teenage passengers who were airlifted in critical condition to hospitals in Atlanta and Columbus, said Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright.
Witnesses said a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass was moving at a high speed when it crossed into the lane for oncoming traffic to pass another vehicle, though the roadway was marked as a no-passing zone. The Oldsmobile, driven by 28-year-old Willie Hooks of LaGrange, slammed into the front of a 1995 Pontiac GrandAm.
"Alcohol is suspected as a possible contributing factor," Wright said in an email. "And blood was drawn from Mr. Hooks to determine a blood-alcohol content."
The State Patrol said the driver of the Pontiac, 23-year-old Melanie Kay Lemmon of LaGrange, was killed along with three passengers in her car - Miranda L. Hurston, 37; Hurston's 16-year-old son, Tridarius Harrison; and her 1-year-old grandson, Quamauri C. Harrison.
Authorities said Hurston also had two teenage daughters who were in the Pontiac and survived the crash. Shaquavious S. Harrison, 18, and Jayvianna C. Hurston, 15, were both in critical condition Saturday morning, Wright said. Shaquavious Harrison is the mother of the baby boy who died.
Witness John Hart told the LaGrange Daily News (http://bit.ly/W7rFgi ) that he and his family were driving northbound after a pizza dinner when he saw the Oldsmobile speed past him on the left and keep moving in the southbound lane as if the driver also intended to pass the next vehicle, four car lengths ahead of Hart.
"He had plenty of room to get back over, and it was like he had to pass that one car in front of me," Hart said. "I said, 'Please Jesus, please Jesus, don't let anyone be coming the other way on the other side of that knoll.' And that's when the crash happened."
Hart said he and other witnesses pulled over and called for help. He said rescue workers had to cut the victims out of the wreckage.
"There was just complete silence," Hart said. "No moans, not a sound."