Climax man killed in early Monday crash

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Climax man was killed in a crash off Georgia 262 South early Monday morning, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Russell “Rusty” Andrews, 42, of Climax, died from injuries he received after his car collided with a semi trailer truck that was stopped and blocking both lanes of the highway.

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The accident happened around 5:42 a.m. off Georgia 262 South, about two miles north of its intersection with U.S. 27 South in southeastern Decatur County, Trooper First Class Brian Palmer with the GSP’s Colquitt, Ga., post said.

Trooper Palmer described the sequence of events leading up to the accident.

Larry Darnell Peterson, 57, of Quincy, Fla., was driving a semi truck with a gravity flow trailer for BH Transfer Company of Sandersville, Ga. Peterson, who was preparing to pick up a load from a mine operated by Active Minerals International LLC’s Attapulgite Division, was headed north on Georgia 262 when he accidentally passed where he meant to turn off, State Trooper Palmer said.

Peterson had passed the mine’s gate and was attempting to back into a paved turn-around just north of the mine when the truck’s wheels became stuck in mud, TFC Palmer said. The truck’s cab was facing north off the highway’s eastern shoulder, while its trailer stretched back across both of the highway’s lanes.

Meanwhile, Andrews was headed south in a 1990 Buick LeSabre. He simultaneously topped a hill rise and rounded a curve, about a quarter mile north of where the semi truck was, Palmer said.

“[Peterson] stated he tried to get Andrews’ attention by waving his arms out of the window, yelling and flashing the truck’s headlights,” the state trooper said. “Because of the way the truck was parked, I don’t believe [Andrews] realized it was blocking the road until it was too late.”

There were no skid marks on the road to indicate Andrews might have braked, which was supported by witness statements, Palmer said. However, the state trooper said he didn’t believe Andrews was exceeding the speed limit.

A woman who works as a Leon County, Fla., jailer had come up behind the semi truck from the south and was stopped behind it just before the accident, Palmer said. After the crash, the jailer attempted to help Andrews, however, he was declared dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Kenny Hollis, according to the State Patrol.

Georgia 262 South was closed between its intersections with Wautauga Road and U.S. 27 South until Monday afternoon to allow members of the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team to investigate the crash.

Officers with the SCRT team used special cameras to record various measurements of distance at the crash site; those measurements can be used to create a precise computer model of the accident scene for further study, said Cpl. David Hermanowski, who works out of the SCRT’s Valdosta, Ga., office.

“We are able to create a computer model that sets up everything at the scene to scale,” Cpl. Hermanowski said. “We also gather scene evidence, such as the roadway and weather conditions, to help prepare our report.”

The State Patrol’s SCRT teams only respond to accidents that have the potential of being criminally prosecutable, Hermanowski said without commenting specifically on Monday’s accident.

It will be up to District Attorney Joe Mulholland, who will be presented the SCRT team’s findings, to decide whether any charges should be filed in the accident, Hermanowski said.