Almost a year after two teen pedestrians were killed on McCombs Road, the Georgia State Patrol investigation remains open but is close to resolution.
Senior Trooper Marion Bragg said the case was moved into the review process last week and will be passed on to the district attorney’s office after it is reviewed by a patrol supervisor.
“It’s not our goal for it to last this long,” Bragg said, but the crash investigation team for Richmond County is also assigned cases from 25 other counties and was shorthanded last year.
When manpower cannot meet the workload, Bragg said, “it tends to pile up on you.”
He said the team is now fully staffed with six troopers for the first time since 2006.
The wreck on McCombs Road was one of three from Richmond County assigned to the area’s state patrol crash reconstruction team. Altogether, the team opened 55 cases in 2011 and closed 46, while also investigating cases from 2010, according
to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Crime lab results from the wreck on McCombs Road were not returned to the crash team until October, the department said.
Michael Perry, 17, and Sarah Riffe, 13, were struck around 8 p.m. March 2 by William Shore, investigators said.
In a recent interview, Perry’s aunt, Sabrina Herndon, knew to the minute how long it’s been since Perry was killed. She is bothered by the lack of any official answers about her nephew’s death.
“What I don’t understand is why there’s other accidents like that and all their stuff has been solved,” she said.
Perry, Riffe and two other friends were at his grandmother’s home just before the wreck. Bridget Crank remembers with a smile how her grandson and the others were cutting up and toasting each other with wine glasses full of soda. When they left for a friend’s house, Crank was only half-joking when she told them not to sneak back into the house.
“I don’t want any grandbabies,” she said, then added, “And stay off the road.”
Perry was crossing the road with Riffe’s arm linked in his when they were struck by a Jeep Cherokee; they died side by side, witnesses told Herndon.
The TV news image that stands out in her mind from that night is Perry’s single shoe on the road.
Herndon said Perry had issues growing up, but they were overcome by the love shown to him by his aunt and grandmother. He was an energetic teenager who made everyone laugh with his antics, though there was a learning curve.
“He gave me an eye twitch when he first moved in,” Herndon said, laughing.