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2 hurt in five-vehicle pileup on Browns Bridge
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Georgia state troopers work the scene Wednesday of a five-vehicle wreck on Browns Bridge, forcing the highway to close for several hours.

A five-vehicle accident on Browns Bridge cut off access to the bridge on Ga. 369 for more than two hours Wednesday and injured two.

Hall County Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland said the wreck happened at about 5:30 p.m. near the center of the bridge that spans Lake Lanier and connects Hall and Forsyth counties.

Two people were taken by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, but neither had what appeared to be life-threatening
injuries, Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said.

The most seriously injured was 22-year-old Dawsonville resident Nicholas Chrastina. Chrastina, whose Ford Ranger was hit head-on by a Chevrolet Monte Carlo that had reportedly swerved around a rear-end collision in front of it, was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with serious injuries.

While the Georgia State Patrol had not concluded its investigation on the scene Wednesday, Trooper Steve Thompson said an initial investigation indicated that one or more of the drivers would be charged with following too closely.

Initial reports were that the pileup began with one rear-end collision.

The initial wreck occurred when a late model Toyota Rav-4 Johana Lopez was driving was hit in the rear by a red PT Cruiser, driven by Marion Emery Roberts.

Roberts, 67, said he was headed to Forsyth County to meet his wife to buy a boat when he hit Lopez’ SUV from behind.

“From my mirror, I (saw) the red car sliding, and I said ‘Oh my God, he’s going to hit me,’ ” Lopez said. “... I (could) see that he cannot stop. ... I was scared.”

A Chevrolet Monte Carlo behind Roberts’ car swerved around the accident and hit the Ford Ranger head-on. Its driver, 35-year-old Laura Greeson of Cumming, was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with injuries.

Another vehicle, driven by Forsyth County resident Darren Burnham, hit the Monte Carlo from behind. Burnham, who was headed home from work in Oakwood when the wreck occurred, said he was not injured, only a little shaken up.

“It seemed like the red car had stopped, had come to a complete stop,” Burnham said. “The ... Monte Carlo swerved out into (the other ) lane trying to miss the red car, and I tried to do the same. It happened pretty quickly.”

The wreck closed down access to the bridge on Ga. 369 for more than an hour and a half Wednesday evening, leaving several semi-trucks stranded on the Hall County side until the damage could be cleared.

The wreck did not appear to cause any structural damage to the bridge, officials said. As state troopers tried to assess the scene, firefighters worked to clean up fluids left behind from the wreck, some of which spilled into the lake.

Kimbrell said a thin slick, about 60 by 70 feet wide, formed on the surface of the lake. Fire officials believe the spill mostly consisted of radiator fluid, not gasoline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for cleaning up the spill on the lake.

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