By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
2 die in suspected DUI holiday crashes; roughly 600 traffic citations written
03302018 SHERIFF BADGE.jpg

Lt. Todd Casper estimated the Hall County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit wrote roughly 600 tickets between Dec. 28 and Tuesday, Jan. 1, while officers also responded to two fatality wrecks.

Shari Brown, 56, of Lake City was killed when the car she was riding in failed to yield when turning left from Ga. 13 onto the southbound entrance ramp to I-985, according to the Georgia State Patrol. The crash happened about 3:50 p.m. Jan. 1.

John Brown, 61, also of Lake City, was the driver, state patrol reported. He is charged with homicide by vehicle in the first degree, DUI and failure to yield. He was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with injuries.

The car he was driving, a 2001 Cadillac Deville, was struck on its right side by a 2009 Nissan 370Z that was traveling north on Ga. 13. A 2017 Hyundai Elantra was stopped on the ramp, and a 2010 GMC Acadia stopped behind it. The Cadillac struck the Hyundai, causing it to travel backward and hit the GMC.

The driver of the Nissan, Bryan Castillo, 23, of Gainesville, suffered minor injuries. The drivers of the other two vehicles were not injured.

Another man was killed Tuesday, Jan. 1, after his car went off the road and struck a tree near the border of Hall and Jackson counties.

Misael Santiago-Ruiz, 25, of Gainesville died at Northeast Georgia Medical Center after a wreck before 9 a.m. Tuesday at Talmo and Fuller roads.

Casper noted the suspected speed was just over 30 miles per hour and suspected Santiago-Ruiz may have been under the influence.

“Due to the impairment and inclement weather of the fog, visibility was a bit lower. No braking, no counter steering, anything,” Casper said.

No other cars or passengers were involved, Casper said.

Casper said six officers in the traffic unit worked Saturday night, and seven officers patrolled Monday night until 4 a.m. Tuesday. On those days, Casper said the unit wrote 232 citations and made three DUI arrests.

“Over the whole weekend, they probably wrote 600 tickets,” Casper said of the traffic unit between Thursday and Tuesday.

Numbers for the whole sheriff’s office were not available.

According to the jail logs, there were eight DUI arrests between Monday, Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1. This is a slight dip from the nine DUI arrests during last year’s holiday time.

Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said the city’s officers focused on the high traffic corridors of Dawsonville Highway and Green Street during the holiday.

“Partially, the rain contributed to a lot of that. People were not out as much as usual,” Holbrook said regarding the fewer DUI arrests.

Of the 232 citations written Saturday and Monday, Casper said 70 percent would fall under speeding. Some of the hotspots included the roads of Friendship, Elrod and Bark Camp as well as Interstate 985 and Ga. 365.

“I got several on there in the area of Mabry Road. They were going around the curve on the wrong side of the road. … I’d sit right there with my camera running. They’d just come around, and half of their car would be on the wrong side of the road,” Casper said.

Regional events