Two injured in wreck Wednesday

Published 5:31 pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two people were injured in a wreck on Georgia 97 South on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The accident happened on Georgia 97 South in front of Performance Marine, south of the Faceville community in southern Decatur County, at about 4:30 p.m.

Elaine Budzyna, 62, of Chattahoochee, Fla., was attempting to back out of the boat repair business’ parking lot and accidentally depressed the accelerator instead of the car’s brake pedal, Cpl. Kyle Duke of the Georgia State Patrol’s Colquitt, Ga., post said. That caused Budzyna’s 2002 Dodge Ram pickup truck to surge backward out into the highway, into the path of a 1997 Dodge Ram driven by Ladon Gardner, 46, of 222 River Oaks Road, Bainbridge, who was traveling north on the highway.

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Gardner was unable to avoid colliding straight on into the passenger side of Budzyna’s pickup truck, causing it to overturn. Gardner’s pickup truck spun clockwise after the hard collision and came to rest off the shoulder of the road.

Cpl. Duke, who lives near Faceville, was the first emergency responder at the scene and acted quickly to help Budzyna, who was trapped inside her overturned truck. Duke grabbed an axe out of his patrol car’s trunk. After telling Budzyna to close her eyes and cover her face with her hands, he used the axe to cut open a hole in the truck’s windshield.

Climbing inside the truck’s cab, Duke held a blanket over himself and the trapped driver while firefighters used the Jaws of Life to cut open the top of the truck so that she could be freed. Emergency Medical Services treated Budznyna at the scene and later transported her to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Gardner, who suffered a compound fracture to the femur of one of his legs—among other injuries—was taken to Tallahassee Memorial by emergency medical helicopter, Duke said.

Gardner works as the head of security for the Bainbridge Wal-Mart and is also a rural mail carrier.

Budzyna will be charged with driving under the influence and improper backing, Duke said. Both victims’ blood will be tested for the presence of alcohol as a standard procedure following a serious accident.