Seven people have died on Georgia roads this holiday weekend, including one person killed in a Hall County wreck.
Guadalupe Hernandez Vazquez, 58, of Gainesville was a passenger in the wreck that took place at 1:23 a.m. Saturday on Ga. 60/Candler Road near Lee Land Road in South Hall.
In addition to the seven fatalities, 565 people were injured in 2,075 wrecks worked by troopers through Monday evening. While the number of crashes exceeded the 1,725 predicted by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, 18 fatalities had been predicted. In 2008, 19 people died and 798 were injured in 1,660 wrecks.
In addition to the fatality worked by the Gainesville patrol post, one fatality each was reported by Cobb County Police and patrol posts in Jasper, Marietta, Milledgeville, Thomson and Waycross.
One of the fatalities, a motorcyclist who sped down Atlanta freeways while being pursued by police, died when he crashed and was thrown into oncoming traffic, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Troopers identified the victim of the Sunday night wreck as
44-year-old John Frederick Freeman of McDonough.
The Public Safety Department’s 78-hour accident reporting period started 6 p.m. Friday and ended at midnight Monday.
A local free service aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the road had some success in its inaugural weekend, according to Vivienne Speer, director of Bill’s Place Inc., commonly known as BPI.
Clients of Bill’s Place, a local residential center for recovering addicts, provided a ride home to anyone who called, including getting the driver’s vehicle home.
"We’ve had numerous requests from liquor-serving establishments to have a service year-round, (but it is) not cost effective to do it year-round," Speer said. "But we are prepared ... to focus on the major holidays (when) people have a tendency to be drinking or drugging a little more."
Speer said Monday night that the service received calls throughout the weekend, with many coming from bartenders and most coming after midnight. At least two of the impaired drivers picked up through the service would not have been able to make it home due to the level of intoxication, Speer said.
Speer said there were some 75 to 80 calls throughout the weekend, though not all of those were calls for a ride. Some were just seeking information about the free service.
"I was actually surprised that we got so many calls," Speer said. "What we noticed was it was the younger folks making the calls and we had a number of bartenders who called for patrons."
The age range of most of those who called for a ride home was from 23-27, Speer said. And the service provided rides as far as Clermont to the north and Flowery Branch to the south.
Speer said this type of service is "incredibly useful for areas north of Atlanta."
"Those areas could be run by a small volunteer network. I do think it needs to be a community-based effort," she said. "All you would need to do is have a group of people willing to provide the service, whether it be a church group or a civic group."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.