COVINGTON -- Citizens leaped into action Thursday afternoon to help the victims of a head-on collision on Access Road in front of Golden Rule Automotive.
According to the Newton County Sheriff's Office, a 25-year-old Atlanta man was attempting to pass a vehicle in a no-passing zone when he struck a Ford Excursion driven by a 35-year-old Covington woman. No one had significant injuries, according to NCSO spokesman Lt. Mark Mitchell. The Atlanta man was charged with improper passing and improper lane usage.
John Principe, an employee with the garage, said the crash was so loud, it sounded like somebody had hit the building and he was afraid of what he would find when he and other employees ran out to assist those involved.
"We ran up there and a couple of us saw a woman and her daughter there. They were just shaken-up and very upset," he said. "Then we heard the babies crying. We looked in the backseat and there were three baby seats right in a row. They all looked to be about the same age."
Mitchell said the three toddlers were all approximately 2 years old, although Principe said he thought they looked younger.
"Those were great car seats. They were strapped in perfectly and hadn't moved at all," he said, adding that whoever had installed the seats and put the children in them had taken the time to ensure the shoulder harnesses were tight and the seats were installed properly.
"I've seen other accidents where that wasn't the case," he said.
Principe said he and the other employees helped remove the children from the vehicle as the crash had caused a lot of fluid to begin leaking from the cars.
Meanwhile, he said the at fault driver was out of his car and was saying things like, "Man, can you believe what happened to my car? I've got a uncle who works at a car rental place and I need to go see him."
Principe said the next thing they knew, the 25-year-old man was asking a passerby for a ride.
"I told her, 'He can't go anywhere. If you take him away, you'll go to jail for being an accessory to a crime,'" Principe said.
Next, the 25-year-old man took off running with Principe and another employee, Brent Calhoun, chasing after him.
"We ran about a quarter of a mile toward Covington ... to the bridge that goes across to Fieldstone," Principe said. "We weren't going to do anything to him, but we were going to stay with him. He finally stopped and began slowly walking back."
NCSO Deputies shortly arrived and took over the accident scene.
Principe said he was impressed with how the woman who was hit was able to turn slightly to minimize the impact of the other vehicle without losing control and going off the roadway.