A Jefferson County, Ga., sheriff's deputy who doubled as Bartow's chief of police was killed in a one-car accident early Tuesday after reportedly hitting an oil patch on U.S. Highway 1 south of Wrens.
Two women charged with walking drunk along the highway also were in 25-year-old Eric Salter's patrol car when it slid off the road and flipped three times before landing upright on the right shoulder, according to Sheriff Gary Hutchins.
A sheriff's car responding to the accident flipped once after driving through the same oil patch, authorities said. Investigator Jimmy Duncan suffered a cracked vertebra and was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
Deputy Salter was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3 a.m. -- about two hours after the accident. Both women were treated for minor injuries at MCG.
The accident is under investigation by the Georgia State Patrol. An official cause of death will be released after an autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's forensic pathology lab in Atlanta, said Jefferson County Coroner J.L. Veatch.
Sheriff Hutchins said he doubted that Deputy Salter was speeding when he lost control of the car. Investigator Duncan was well below the 55 mph speed limit when he crashed, he said.
Deputy Salter lived in Bartow with his wife, Tammy, and three daughters, Christina, 9, Whitney, 2, and Samantha, 5 months. He had been working in law enforcement for six years and had worked at the Jefferson County jail and served as an animal control officer in Laurens County.
"He was raised in law enforcement," said his stepfather, Art Arthur, a former Bartow chief of police and Jefferson County ranger. "He was doing what he loved (when he died)."
Smith Funeral Home in Wadley is in charge of arrangements.
Reach John Edwards at 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.