Trooper Michael Burns, of the Georgia State Patrol-Griffin Post, responded to the incident, along with personnel from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Patrol Division.
“The driver of a garbage truck from a private trash company was crossing over (Highway) 16 from one parking lot to another,” Burns said. “For whatever reason, he pulled out into the path of travel of a pickup truck. The driver of the pickup truck swerved to miss him and left the roadway, striking a utility pole.”
According to Burns, the garbage truck driver, 22-year-old Nicholas Blake Turner, of Molena, said he did not see the Dodge Dakota, driven by 68-year-old Betty Jane Young, before he began to cross Highway 16.
Both Betty Young and her husband, 74-year-old Travis Young, a passenger in the Dakota, received minor injuries in the wreck.
“The problem was the utility pole split in the middle and the only thing keeping it upright was two metal guy-wires,” Burns said.
Due to concern that the removal of the Dakota could cause the utility pole — which was determined to contain only AT&T phone lines — to break completely, officials determined the safest course of action was to contact the phone company and leave the vehicle in place until the arrival of an AT&T work crew.
“We had traffic shut down for hours,” Burns said. “We called AT&T four or five times. They kept telling us they were sending someone out, but they never would give us a time frame for their arrival. We were diverting traffic down all the side roads during this time. Highway 16 is a major state road, and after three hours of the Department of Transportation being out there, the decision was made that it was more important to reopen the road and get the traffic moving, so we moved the truck. If the pole had snapped, we would have dealt with that then.”
Burns said that despite heavy damage, the utility pole remained in place when the truck was moved.
Although Turner’s vehicle was not directly involved in the collision, Burns said Turner was charged with failure to yield the right of way because had he not pulled into Young’s path of travel, the incident would not have occurred.