Originally created 09/08/04

Slippery conditions kill 6 near Augusta



Authorities blame heavy rains and slippery conditions in the deaths of five people traveling along Interstate 20 and also the death of a Thomson waitress killed after a car crashed into the restaurant where she was working.

Two others were injured in the accident, according to Georgia State Patrol Trooper Powell Allen.

The waitress died, authorities said, after a Chevrolet Caprice careened through the side of a Thomson Waffle House on Tuesday afternoon.

"The driver lost control, traveled off the roadway and actually drove 27 feet into Waffle House, striking three pedestrians, two injured and one was fatally wounded," Trooper Allen said.

Teresa Carlisle, the waitress, was pronounced dead at McDuffie Regional Medical Center after an attempt was made to airlift her to the Medical College of Georgia, according to Rhusha Mack, McDuffie County's deputy coroner.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation and charges against the uninjured driver of the Caprice are pending, he said. The restaurant, located just south of Interstate 20, was packed with lunch-hour customers.

McDuffie County Code Enforcement Officer Gail Newsome was running late for a lunch meeting at Waffle House, where she had planned on meeting Tim Mosley from the Health Department. Mr. Mosley was injured by flying glass as the car entered the restaurant.

"Tim said he saw it coming and there was no reaction time," Ms. Newsome said. "He stood up, but there was no place to go."

Heavy rains also contributed to at least five Interstate 20 traffic fatalities Monday night and Tuesday.

Authorities said Robin J. Williams, 50, of Martinez, was killed Tuesday morning when her vehicle hydroplaned in Aiken County.

She was eastbound in a Nissan Xterra between mile markers 13 and 14 at about 5:30 a.m. when her vehicle left the road and struck a tree, said Aiken County Chief Deputy Coroner Tim Carlton. He said she was not wearing her seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The stormy weather played a role in a fatal accident on I-20 that killed three people in Taliaferro County early Tuesday.

According to the Georgia State Patrol's post in Washington, the driver of a Dodge Stratus hydroplaned and then lost control of the car at about 3 a.m. near mile marker 143. The Dodge veered off the roadway and struck a tree.

Killed were driver Anthony Forman, 22, of Belzoni, Miss., and passengers Jerick Brown, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla., and Cozette Butler, 21, of Indianola, Miss.

On Monday night, a female soldier was killed in a two-car crash on I-20 in Warren County, according to the Georgia State Patrol Thomson post.

Lisa Ray Peterson, 19, who was based at Fort Rucker, Ala., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Trooper Jamie Swint said Ms. Peterson was a passenger in the Mitsubishi Gallant that Archie Darby was driving. The car was headed west on I-20 when it hydroplaned, crossed the median and then was struck by a Ford Mustang driven by Maurice Hughes, of Morrow, Ga.

The crash occurred at about 9 p.m. near mile marker 154. Neither Mr. Darby nor Mr. Hughes was injured.

In other storm-related events, power outages were caused by downed trees and tree limbs in the North Hills and The Rapids subdivisions in North Augusta early Tuesday.

Electricity was restored and a few trees were removed from roads by 9:30 a.m., said Becky Leopard, spokeswoman for the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

In Georgia, heavy rains and winds caused about 2,000 homes to lose power over Monday night and Tuesday morning, according to a Georgia Power Co. spokeswoman.

Of those homes, about 1,300 are in Thomson, 400 are in Augusta and fewer than 100 are in Waynesboro. Statewide, about 400,000 homes have lost power.

There were 1,873 Jefferson Energy Cooperative customers without power Tuesday, but by 8 p.m., all were restored except for about 60 homes, said Randy Chalker, a spokesman for the Wrens-based company.

As of 4 p.m., South Carolina Electric & Gas said there were 50 customers without power, said Jodie Roberts-Smith.

Amoi Geter, of Georgia Power, said crews were working to restore power to homes across Georgia, but because the storm is moving slowly, the situation could get worse before it gets better.

"It will be a difficult few days," she said.

Power-deprived homes and questionable road conditions prompted Jefferson County officials to close public schools Tuesday.

"It's very difficult to make that decision, but if we err, it's going to be on the side of caution," said Donnie Hodges, the director of curriculum for Jefferson County schools.

The Augusta area experienced a record amount of rainfall Tuesday, according to weather officials.

At Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, rainfall was measured at 2.9 inches at 8 p.m., outdistancing the previous Sept. 7, 1950, record of 1.39 inches, according to the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C. Near Burke County, 3.5 inches was reported, officials said.

AREA IMPACT

Deaths: 6
Rainfall: More than 3 inches (Augusta)
Power outages: About 4,000 customers

School status:
Glascock County: open at 9 a.m. today
Jefferson County: open 1 hours late today
Washington County: closed today
Aiken, Burke, Columbia, Edgefield, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond and Wilkes counties: Open at regular times