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Fatal wrecks mar Thanksgiving holiday weekend
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The Thanksgiving holiday was marred by 19 fatalities on Georgia’s roadways, one more than last year.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety reported, as of Sunday evening, that 11 people died in crashes worked by the Georgia State Patrol and eight by other law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Two fatalities took place in the Hall County area, including one early Sunday.

Robert D. Barnett, 44, of Commerce, was traveling west on Ga. 326 when he lost control of his pickup truck in a curve. The vehicle left the roadway and turned onto its top, said Gordy Wright, Georgia State Patrol spokesman.

The vehicle hit a culvert, ejecting Barnett, then caught fire and burned. Barnett was not wearing a seat belt and “alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor,” Wright said.

The wreck occurred at 2:25 a.m. about six miles east of Commerce.

On Thanksgiving morning, Alex Owen Pagel, 21, lost control of a 1985 Nissan 300ZX on Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road, just east of Reeves Road, said Karleen Chalker, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

The single-vehicle collision occurred at 3:20 a.m. Thursday, Chalker said.

“He ran off the south side of 369 ... rotated clockwise, went up the embankment and struck the tree on the driver’s door,” said Chalker, citing a sheriff’s report.

Pagel was not wearing a seat belt, she said, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

The accident remains under investigation.

Pagel was a graduate of North Forsyth High School, according to his obituary.

This year, the state patrol worked 622 crashes, with 263 injuries reported. Last year, GSP handled 466 crashes involving 303 injuries, according to Department of Public Safety data.

The official traffic count began at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ended at midnight Sunday.

Officials said roads stayed busy but generally quiet during the holiday, highlighted by Black Friday shopping traffic and people heading to and returning from Thanksgiving feasts.

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