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Driver charged with vehicular homicide

POSTED: November 27, 2007 5:04 a.m.

A 21-year-old man is charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence after a wreck Wednesday afternoon in Cumming that killed his 20-year-old passenger.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office responded to the fatal car crash at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday on Canton Highway.

Jackson Kyle Kelley, 21, of Newt Green Road in Cumming, was trying to turn left into the Wood Ace Hardware when the 1999 Ford Taurus he was driving was hit by a Ford F-250 pickup, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelley’s passenger, 20-year-old James Thomas Kearns of Winchester Drive in Cumming, was trapped in the vehicle for about 30 minutes and was pronounced dead before arriving at the hospital.

Kelley and the driver of the pickup, George Yerdon, Jr., 29, of Columns Drive in Cumming, were taken to Northside Forsyth and treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the sheriff’s office.

Forsyth County Investigator Phil Alexander said alcoholic beverages were present in Kelley’s car before the crash.

Kelley was arrested and charged with homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, failure to yield while turning left and open container of alcohol.

Kelley then was booked into the Forsyth County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of a $19,800 bond.

Because it happened before 6 p.m., the Wednesday afternoon fatal wreck does not count toward the holiday toll of 18 deaths predicted during the Thanksgiving holiday by the Georgia State Patrol. The holiday period goes from 6 p.m. Wednesday to midnight Sunday.

Last year, during the same period, there were 19 vehicle deaths on Georgia roadways, state officials said.

By 6 p.m. Thursday, there had been four deaths and 244 injuries reported in car crashes in the state since Wednesday at 6 p.m., according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety Web site.

Still, slick roads from much-needed rainfall still kept police busy in Georgia on Thanksgiving.

The Georgia State Patrol has been encouraging drivers to be careful as they travel during the holiday period.

Troopers have been conducting patrols and road checks, and so far the extra attention seems to be working.

They also were urging travelers to allow plenty of time to reach their destination, take rest breaks on extended trips and avoid distractions inside their vehicles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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