The accident occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m. as Wright and Sgt. Curtis Keys were both outside their vehicles, working off-duty.
Police officials allege that 53-year-old Melanie Jane Hand, of Griffin, was intoxicated while driving the 2003 Chevrolet Impala that first hit multiple construction barrels along the roadside before striking Wright.
“She just started taking out barricades. We heard the car coming — boom, boom, boom — the only thing we could see were headlights,” Keys said. “I tried to jump out of the way and at the same time, I tried to pull Larry out of the way, too.”
Despite Keys’ efforts, Wright was struck and injured by the vehicle.
“He actually tried to push up off the car, but it clipped him in his side, anyway,” Keys said. “I went after the car then, because she didn’t stop. I finally got her at the intersection of LaPrade and Magnolia roads.”
Maj. Homer Daniel, the officer in charge of the Uniform Patrol Division, said Wright was transported by Emergency Medical Services to the Spalding Regional Medical Center emergency room, where he was treated and released.
“Sgt. Wright received injuries to his face, both hands and wrists and his left leg, in addition to other bruising,” Daniel said. “While he was at the hospital, Chief Strickland and probably 25 other officers came out there. We all have a dangerous job and we’re here to support each other.”
Patrolman Pat Jones, the arresting officer in the incident, said, “The driver was charged with DUI, refusal; failure to maintain a lane; aggressive driving; reckless driving; a violation of the move-over law; duty to report an accident; striking a fixed object; felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer; felony hit and run; fleeing and attempting to elude.”
Following this incident, Daniel is urging motorists to exercise due vigilance on the roads.
“Drivers need to be more cautious in work areas. There’s a lot of construction work going on along Georgia roadways,” Daniel said. “Wright is blessed — truly blessed — because it could have been really traumatic. Another foot or so in another direction and it could have been tragic.”
As for the alleged drunken driver, Keys said following her apprehension, Hand did ask one question.
“When I walked up to the car, she asked me if I could let her go,” he said.