Georgia State Patrol officers said Monday they are searching for the driver of a white passenger car, possibly a Ford Taurus, that merged into the left lane of Interstate 16 in front of a Toyota 4Runner carrying Jessica Lynn Fulmer, 21; Melissa Kristin Eustice, 20; and Jamie Lynn Carter, 22, according to a spokesman in Statesboro, Ga.
The wreck occurred at about 3:40 p.m. Sunday near Metter. Ms. Eustice, who is believed to have been driving, lost control of the sport utility vehicle and it flipped several times, ejecting all three Georgia Southern University students, the spokesman said.
Candler County Coroner David Moore said he suspects none were wearing safety belts.
Authorities said the driver could face criminal charges, the Georgia State Patrol spokesman said.
The girls were traveling to Statesboro from a friend's engagement party in Atlanta, said Ms. Fulmer's stepfather, Paul Ikner, of Martinez.
"They were the best of buddies," Mr. Ikner said of the girls and the rest of their sisters in the Delta Lambda chapter of Kappa Delta sorority at Georgia Southern.
Ms. Fulmer and Ms. Eustice, both 2005 Lakeside High graduates, were pronounced dead shortly after the wreck.
Ms. Carter, of Warner Robins, Ga., was listed in critical condition Monday at the Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, according to a hospital spokesman.
Mr. Ikner said his stepdaughter was a "prissy little thing" who he remembered as a child twirling in her dresses while wearing tap shoes. The only thing that wasn't "girly" about her was her Jeep Wrangler, he said.
Ms. Fulmer will be laid to rest next to her birth father, who died in a car wreck when she was just 3 years old, Mr. Ikner said.
"She enjoyed the finer things in life and understood what hard work it takes to get those things," he said of the college junior who was studying nursing. "She enjoyed her friends."
Ms. Fulmer and Ms. Eustice were high school friends and were on the same homecoming court together in the fall of 2004.
Lakeside High Principal Jeff Carney said teachers and mostly seniors, who were freshmen when Ms. Fulmer and Ms. Eustice graduated, were affected by the incident.
Ms. Eustice's family now lives in Tennessee. She was a Lakeside High cheerleader and was voted the "Biggest Flirt" by her classmates. She was an active swimmer before heading to Georgia Southern, where she was a junior nutrition major.
Reach Valerie Rowell at 868-1222, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JESSICA LYNN FULMER
- Funeral at 1 p.m. Thursday at Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors at 214 Davis Road in Augusta. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Westover Memorial Park.
MELISSA KRISTIN EUSTICE
- Visitation from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Hodges-Moore Funeral Home in Statesboro, Ga.
- Visitation from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church at 1330 Monte Sano Ave., Augusta. Funeral will follow at 7 p.m.
- Visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Williamson and Sons Funeral Home in Soddy Daisy, Tenn.
- Graveside services and burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Presbyterian Cemetery in Soddy Daisy, Tenn.