An Augusta man who slammed into two vehicles while driving on the wrong side of Jimmie Dyess Parkway as he fled police pleaded guilty Monday.
Phetariah Forde, 23, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to three counts of serious injury by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Forde to four years in prison, followed by three years on probation.
Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers said Monday that a sheriff’s deputy driving on Barton Chapel Road tried to stop Forde, who had nearly clipped him on the street. The officer turned around and followed Forde onto Gordon Highway and then to Jimmie Dyess at speeds reaching 120 mph.
Forde was driving in the wrong lane when he hit the first car head-on and then slammed into a second vehicle, Myers said. The crash left one couple with a crushed ankle and a broken right arm. The driver of the other vehicle suffered two breaks of his right wrist and a dislocated thumb that required surgery, the prosecutor said.
Forde had no previous criminal record, and those who know him say the incident was out of character, said his defense attorney, William Marcum. Forde had been deeply affected emotionally by a robbery at a restaurant where he was working before the wreck, Marcum said.
Forde apologized for causing the crash. He said he didn’t realize the first car that chased him was a police vehicle, because it was unmarked, and that he just panicked.