Wrong-way driver leads to I-20 crash

COVINGTON -- The Covington Police reported a wrong-way driver caused havoc on Interstate 20 around 6 p.m. Saturday.

CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff said there were no fatalities involved when a man began driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-20 at exit 93 and continued until he reached the point where the Emory Street bridge crosses over the interstate, nearly to exit 90, where he crashed.

Jerry Webb, 60, of 8151 Collier St., has been charged with driving on the wrong side of the road. At the time of the incident, Webb was injured and transported to Newton Medical Center.

"He couldn't be interviewed at that time," Wagstaff said, adding that the incident is still under investigation and more charges may be forthcoming, although he said "nothing at the scene indicated alcohol was involved."

Wagstaff said Webb, who was driving a blue Ford Ranger, side-swiped two vehicles before crashing head-on into a third, causing injuries to other drivers and passengers that required them to be transported to area hospitals as well. No one had to be airlifted, he said.

"Witnesses stated that it appeared the subject started deliberately swerving toward oncoming cars. We're following up more on that," Wagstaff said.

Wagstaff said he wanted to personally extend the thanks of the CPD to the Newton County Sheriff's Office for helping with traffic control following the incident.

"They really stepped up, and it really helped us in a situation like that when we had so many units tied up. We just want to say thank you for helping us," he said.

Traffic was snarled about 30 minutes while emergency vehicles reached the victims, Wagstaff said.

In other crime news, a Conyers man was arrested after being caught in the act of stealing wooden pallets, according to the Covington Police Department.

Carlos Bashun Hannah, 38, of 821 Cambridge Creek Drive, has been charged with theft by taking after a CPD officer observed him loading wooden pallets on the back of a trailer behind the Food Depot building.

According to a CPD incident report, the officer observed the man load approximately five pallets onto his vehicle before confronting him.

"After interviewing Hannah, he advised he did not have permission to be on the property, nor did he have permission to remove any of the pallets or any other Food Depot property from this location," the officer stated in the report. "Hannah stated he had been taking the pallets 'for years' and no one had ever said anything to him about it before."

Also, the CPD also reported that a Covington man faces assault charges after a Covington Wal-Mart loss prevention officer attempted to hold him for police after witnessing him taking merchandise he did not pay for.

Charles E. Blanton, 48, of 65 Eleanor Drive was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and theft by shoplifting.

According to a CPD incident report, the loss prevention officer observed the suspect concealing several items while in the store and escorted him back to the store's office where the items were retrieved. Items valued at an estimated $49 were recovered, including two pillowcases, one measuring spoon, a bra and a package of dress socks.

The Wal-Mart employee told police while waiting for them to arrive, "Mr. Blanton became very agitated and expressed how badly he did not want to go back to jail. ... Mr. Blanton then stood up from the bench he was sitting on and pulled a box cutter from his left pocket and started walking towards (the victim) with the knife in his hand," the incident report states.

The loss prevention officer then allowed the suspect to leave the store, but observed the vehicle he left in and police were able to shortly make an arrest.