Wreck kills Jefferson High teacher

WRENS, Ga. — A Spanish teacher at Jefferson County High School died Tuesday night when the car she was driving was hit by another vehicle.

Heidi Benstead Hernandez, 28, of Evans, was traveling north on Campground Road outside Wrens.

Trooper 1st Class Gerald Lyles of the Georgia State Patrol investigated the scene and said Hernandez came to a stop at the intersection of Campground Road and U.S. Highway 80 about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“From what I saw and from what the deputies told me, she did come to a complete stop and looked both ways … probably and didn’t see the vehicle and pulled out,” the trooper said. The other vehicle, a silver 2002 Chevrolet Impala driven by Neiley Donell Chance, 37, of Sardis, Ga., hit Hernandez’s car on the driver’s side.

“She died on impact,” Lyles said.

A passenger in Hernandez’s car, Steven Bryant Jones, 34, of Martinez, and Chance were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital. Chance has been discharged and Jones is in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Jefferson County Coroner Edward James Jr. said no alcohol tests would be run on Hernandez, although such tests are routinely done when there is a fatality.

“I called the crime lab and explained she just failed to yield,” James said. The coroner said he spoke with the families of the victims.

He said Hernandez and Jones were headed home when the accident occurred.

“I know they bought a house in Martinez,” he said. James said he thought Hernandez didn’t see the other vehicle and pulled out from the road.

“What we’ve done here is we are taking care of the kids and teachers today,” Jefferson County High School principal Alan Long said Wednesday.

“We will meet in the morning to talk about what we will do Friday,” he said. “Today, we are trying to get through the day.”

Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors will be in charge of the service. Arrangements were not available Wednesday.

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