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Danger around the bend
Intersection was site of 2 deadly accidents in last year and those arent all, residents say
The Hall County Sheriff's Office, Georgia State Patrol and Hall County Fire Services respond March 30, 2011, to an accident that resulted in three fatalities on Clarks Bridge Road near Honeysuckle Road in Gainesville. Three others were injured in the wreck. The injured were transported to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Time and time again, Bebe Garrett has had to replace her fence along Clarks Bridge Road.

Since living at her home on the corner of Clarks Bridge and Honeysuckle roads, Garrett said cars have wrecked in her yard "over and over."

She believes drivers travel the road at unsafe speeds and often misjudge a curve a short distance from her property.

"The fence has been replaced many, many times," Garrett said.

In past years, Garrett kept horses inside the fence, which created problems when a car opened a gap in the enclosure.

Early Thursday morning, a Ford pickup crashed through two different sections of Garrett's fence before coming to a stop about 50 yards from the roadway. Pieces of the truck were scattered throughout the yard, including the truck's grille sitting against a fence post.

The truck hit a utility pole and knocked out power to 246 customers for several hours, Jackson EMC spokeswoman Bonnie Jones said.

The man driving the truck was not injured. But other wrecks just outside Garrett's door have been a different story.

In the past year, four people have been killed in two separate accidents at the site. Both wrecks occurred along the curve just prior to Honeysuckle Road, with the drivers at fault traveling southbound.

In March, three people were killed and three others injured in a head-on collision after the driver of a minivan ran off the shoulder, overcorrected, crossed the center lane and struck a Range Rover, officials said.

Another wreck in December killed Gainesville High School senior Patrick Kelley. He was riding in the back seat when the driver lost control in the curve, crossed the center line and struck a northbound car, said Georgia State Patrol Spokesman Gordy Wright.

"I hope that doesn't keep up," Garrett said of the fatal wrecks.

Because of the many accidents Garrett has witnessed since living at the intersection, she hopes state transportation officials will focus on making the road safer, whether it calls for more road signs or flashing warning lights.

"If it saved a life, wouldn't it be worth it?" Garrett questioned. "Just do something and then the traffic would slow down, hopefully."

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Transportation, said there are "curve ahead" signs along the road that advise a lower speed limit of 35 mph.

Pope said transportation officials are reviewing wrecks in the area by looking at the reports in detail, focusing on the cause of each wreck, where the loss of control began, where the roadway impact occurred and how far that is from the beginning of the wreck.

After the review, officials will make any necessary improvements in the area.

"Speed is a huge issue on the corridor so more stringent enforcement will be a part of our recommendations," Pope said.

There is no timeline for the completion of the review and Pope would not speculate on any possible recommendations or changes.

Don Solesbee, who lives across the street from Garrett, has also witnessed the many wrecks along the curve.

But he doesn't think increased road signs would make a difference because drivers would continue to ignore the speed limit.

"I don't think it would do any good because people don't pay any attention to them," he said. "I think most of the time they just don't keep their mind on what they're doing."

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