Fatal accident on U.S. Highway 84Published 6:21pm Monday, December 19, 2011
One person died and another was transported by helicopter to Tallahassee after they were ejected from an SUV that crashed along U.S. 84 West near Brinson Monday evening, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
A Ford Expedition carrying four people overturned at least once in the median of U.S. 84, just west of the highway’s intersection with Cyrene Road, at about 5:45 p.m. Monday, according to Capt. Pat Trolinger of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.
Two people, the wife of the driver and her elderly mother, were ejected from the SUV in the crash, Trolinger said. The older woman, 69-year-old Porfilia Espinoza of Paso Robles, Calif., died at the scene; her daughter, 30-year-old Manuela Maraz of Bainbridge was rushed to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital by emergency medical helicopter, according to the State Patrol.
Ms. Maraz was in guarded condition as of late Monday night, said Senior Trooper Charles Hall, who investigated the accident.
The SUV had apparently just turned onto U.S. 84 from Gaston Road, about a half-mile west from the crash site, according to state troopers. Witnesses to the crash stated some vehicles heading eastbound on U.S. 84 had slowed down for a vehicle that was turning off the highway just before the accident happened, Senior Trooper Hall said.
“[The SUV’s driver] was apparently distracted—there were no brake marks in the roadway,” Hall said.
The driver of the SUV, which had a Florida tag, was 33-year-old Arturo Negrete Alvarez of Bainbridge. Alvarez swerved to avoid rear-ending another vehicle, lost control and the Expedition went off into the grassy median, where it overturned multiple times, according to Hall.
Emergency medical personnel arrive at the scene of the crash to transport a seriously injured woman to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital by helicopter.
Alvarez and his two-year-old daughter were both in safety belts and were apparently uninjured, although they were taken to Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge to be checked out, Sheriff’s deputies said.
Hall said state troopers believe the two women who were ejected were not wearing seat belts. Espinoza and Maraz were sitting in the rear seat with the toddler, who was properly restrained in a child seat, Hall said.
The SUV’s windows and front and rear windshields were broken out, the vehicle’s roof had partially caved in and its front end had major damage. The SUV’s air bags had deployed. Multiple pieces of the luggage belonging to the family were strewn along the median, thrown out of the SUV in the crash.
Sheriff’s deputies and county and volunteer firefighters were present at the scene and helped the emergency medical helicopter land in the westbound lanes of U.S. 84, about 4.6 miles west of Bainbridge city limits. One of the westbound lanes of U.S. 84 was closed to traffic for more than hour after the crash.
Hall said Alvarez would be cited for failure to maintain lane, but that no criminal charges would be filed against the driver since there was no alcohol involved.