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Fatal Lumpkin wreck involving trooper probed

Victim’s family hires attorney; charges may not be warranted

POSTED: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Donald Teague

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A state accident reconstruction unit is investigating a wreck ,involving a Georgia State Patrol trooper, that killed a motorcyclist in Lumpkin County last month.

Authorities say they have not made a final determination on whether the trooper was at fault in the fatal wreck.

A Georgia motor vehicle accident report obtained by The Times indicates that Trooper First Class John Carroll executed a U-turn in the path of a Harley-Davidson Low Rider driven by 57-year-old Donald Teague of Blairsville.

Teague died after he collided with the passenger-side door of Carroll’s patrol car. The wreck occurred in front of two witnesses on Ga. 11 near the Union County line at 3:15 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, according to the report. The report indicates that a contributing factor in the accident was failure to yield. Any possible citations for Carroll were pending, according to the report.

State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said Wednesday that Carroll, a trooper stationed out of the Cumming post, remains on duty.

While many law enforcement agencies in Georgia routinely call on outside agencies to investigate wrecks involving its officers, the state patrol employs its own Specialized Crash Reconstruction Team to probe accidents involving troopers.

"They’ll complete the report, and whatever the findings, we may look at (them) internally or consult with the district attorney to review the findings," Wright said.

Lumpkin County District Attorney Stan Gunter said Wednesday he had not made any decision on whether charges would be warranted in the case.

"We’ve not received the report from the state patrol, so no decision’s been made at this point," Gunter said.

Gunter would not comment on whether there were indications that the trooper was at fault.

"I won’t know anything until I look at the report," Gunter said.

Teague’s son and daughter have retained a private attorney to pursue possible compensation from the state for their loss.

Newton Moore, an attorney who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases, confirmed he was representing Teague’s survivors. Moore has litigated several other cases involving the state of Georgia.

Wright could not say when the reconstruction team’s report would be completed.

An accident report that was signed off by the Cumming post commander on Oct. 7 states that Carroll, the trooper, was driving south on Ga. 11 while Teague was northbound on his motorcycle. The report says Carroll activated his blue lights and "turned around to pursue a speeding motorcycle traveling north on Ga. 11."

Teague’s motorcycle struck the patrol car when it turned around in the road, according to the report.



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