Originally created 04/08/00

Child's life uncertain after crash



A newborn infant delivered in an emergency Caesarean section clung to life in an incubator Friday as the man charged in the death of the baby's mother was taken from a hospital room to the county jail.

Michael Dorris, 48, a self-employed carpenter from Martinez, is being held without bond, charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, running a red light and driving without proof of insurance. He stayed overnight at Medical College of Georgia Hospital after a car crash Thursday that killed Belinda Keys, 33, of Hephzibah and injured her 8-year-old son.

Contacted Friday, Mr. Dorris' father, Jack Dorris, of Augusta said he knew little about the situation and did not want to comment. He said he had spoken with his son since the wreck.

"He told me that the light was green, and he didn't run a red light," Jack Dorris said. "That's all I can tell you."

Before Mrs. Keys died during surgery, doctors were able to deliver her baby boy, at one point having to revive him with a defibrillator, medical officials said. She was eight months' pregnant with the child, who is in critical condition at MCG Children's Medical Center.

His older brother was released from the hospital Friday.

According to Maj. Richard Weaver of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, Mr. Dorris was eastbound on Wheeler Road in a red Nissan pickup at about 3:30 p.m. and ran a red light at the Bobby Jones Expressway intersection. He struck the driver's side of a Mazda Millenia that was attempting to turn left onto the road from the Bobby Jones exit ramp, mangling both cars and trapping the woman and son inside until firefighters arrived.

Deputy William Steptoe said witnesses reported Mrs. Keys had a green light before the crash.

If convicted of the second-degree vehicular homicide charge, a misdemeanor, Mr. Dorris could face a possible sentence of one to 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, according to the Richmond County district attorney's office.

He already has an extensive arrest record dating back at least 10 years, including arrests for probation and parole violations and failing to appear in court. Since 1990, he has been arrested and charged in Richmond County with shoplifting several times, according to sheriff's department records.

He has also been cited twice for speeding, once for following too close and once for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Williams Funeral Home in Augusta is in charge of arrangements for Mrs. Keys.

Staff Writer Mark Mathis contributed to this article.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or jedwards92@hotmail.com.