Car wrecks as driver flees, killing 2-year-old

A 33-year-old father has been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide after authorities say he wrecked a car while fleeing police near Louisville, causing the death of his 2-year-old daughter and injuring his 3-year-old son.

The incident occurred about 8:30 p.m. Friday after an attempted traffic stop, according to a release e-mailed Sunday by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Other charges against Miller Lee Smith Jr. include serious injury by vehicle, hit and run/failure to render aid, reckless driving, obstruction of an officer, DUI/Child Endangerment, fleeing and attempting to elude, and driving while unlicensed.

A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy noticed Mr. Smith driving erratically and attempted a traffic stop, but Mr. Smith sped away, the report says.

Police found the vehicle overturned in woods about five miles outside Louisville on Middleground Road. An adult male passenger was beside the vehicle and told authorities Mr. Smith had run from the scene and that two children had been in the vehicle.

Deputies found a 2-year-old girl on the ground beside the vehicle and a 3-year-old boy on the ground about 40 feet from the vehicle. Deputies administered first aid until EMS workers arrived, but the 2-year-old, identified as Alike Smith, died at the scene, the release states.

The 3-year-old, XaVion Smith, was airlifted to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he was in fair condition Sunday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. Jefferson County sheriff's Lt. Robert A. Chalker said the boy had broken bones and possibly a concussion.

Mr. Smith was arrested after a brief struggle in a wooded area less than a mile from the scene about 11:30 p.m. Friday, authorities say.

"The deputies chasing him did not know there were any kids in the vehicle until after it wrecked. Needless to say, they were really shook up by what they saw," Lt. Chalker said.

Mr. Smith and the adult passenger were treated at Jefferson Hospital in Louisville. The passenger was released and not charged.

Mr. Smith is being held in the Jefferson County Jail awaiting a bond hearing. He also is being held for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office on an outstanding warrant. Richmond County investigators said Sunday that he faced a bench warrant from not showing up for court in 2008, but they weren't sure what he had been charged with. Lt. Chalker said Mr. Smith had a Louisville address on file, but that he told them he lives in Augusta.

Reach Jonathan Overstreet or Preston Sparks at (706) 724-0851.