Police probe death of teacher hit by vehicle

Special
Christian Giles: Teacher was hit by an SUV on Thursday while out walking her dogs with her husband.

A day after 24-year-old Christian Giles was fatally hit by a vehicle in Evans, neighbors fondly recalled the kindergarten teacher and raised safety concerns about speeding by some motorists in the area.

Meanwhile, police focused their investigation on 24-year-old Brandon Wise, the driver of the Ford Expedition that was involved.

Members of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office Traffic Unit were at the scene Thursday photographing and measuring the area.

"Part of our investigation is to determine if speed was a factor," said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. Charges are pending against Mr. Wise, he said.

He said there is no indication alcohol or drugs played a role, but investigators will await the results of a blood alcohol test, which could take several weeks to a few months to complete.

A Thursday autopsy determined Mrs. Giles, a kindergarten teacher at John Milledge Elementary School in Augusta, died from blunt force trauma to the head, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said.

Auburn Giles told authorities he was walking in the grassy shoulder while his wife walked along the edge of the road, Mr. Collins said. The two were walking southbound with their dogs when the accident occurred about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The impact with the vehicle threw Mrs. Giles about 70 feet, Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Wise told police he was traveling south on Mullikin Road and didn't see Mrs. Giles until it was too late to avoid striking her, Capt. Morris said. The site of the collision on Mullikin Road was near where Mrs. Giles lives on Sawbuck Way.

"I usually walk up that road," said neighbor Carolyn Long, referring to Mullikin Road. "I'm afraid to do that now. There's no sidewalks or anything."

The cul de sac at the end of Sawbuck Way is very much a social circle for those who live nearby, neighbors said.

Ms. Long, who only knew Mrs. Giles through neighborly waves and greetings, said she often sees motorists speeding along Mullikin Road, which has a 30 mph speed limit.

Neighbor Dean Lowe said Mrs. Giles and her husband were well liked in their neighborhood and had already become part of the area's active and social community when he moved there about a year ago.

Mrs. Giles, a 2007 cum laude graduate of Augusta State University, completed her first year of teaching in the spring and married Mr. Giles in October.

Mr. Lowe said he's known Mr. Giles and his family for a while and would often see Mrs. Giles as he went out on regular evening Harley-Davidson rides.

"I ride several evenings a week and I've seen her out walking with her dogs plenty of times," Mr. Lowe said. "That's not unusual."

Mr. Lowe said he has noticed speeding is a problem in the area, even down his street which ends in a cul de sac.

"We've petitioned to have speed bumps put in this neighborhood," he said, adding that there are often plenty of neighbors and children in and around the street in the evening. "Even in this cul de sac, there's still people who come down this thing and think it is a through-road or something."

Reach Valerie Rowell at 868-1222, ext. 110 or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.