Wednesday, November 14, 2012
By Terry Dickson BRUNSWICK | Three people were killed Tuesday when a vehicle being pursued by a Glynn County police officer struck the back of an ambulance in the right lane of a four-lane highway, the Georgia State Patrol said.
The accident occurred at 12:58 a.m. on Spur 25 at its intersection with Cypress Mill Road and killed all three occupants of a Toyota Corolla, said Steve Drury, an operator for the state patrol.
Watching the patrol car videotape of the chase and crash, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said the woman driving the Corolla had room to pass the ambulance but didn’t.
“She just ran into it, just nailed it,’’ Doering said. “It was a very intense crash.”
He said there was only one person injured aboard the ambulance, a patient who was being transported to Focus By the Sea on St. Simons Island.
The patient’s injuries were not serious, Drury said.
Those who were killed were Candice Lynn Smith, 29, who was driving the Toyota, Coray Lee Lemon, 33, and Cedric S. Daniels, 33.
All three were from Brunswick and none were wearing safety belts, Drury said.
The ambulance belongs to Southside Community Fire Protection Inc. of Savannah and was driven by Ryan Philip McVey, 33.
Glynn County patrol officer Carl Evans was checking around businesses off Perry Lane Road just west of Interstate 95 about 12:45 a.m. when he saw the Corolla emerge from behind Guest Cottages and Suites hotel, Doering said.
Not only was the car similar to descriptions of one seen in the area of recent auto burglaries, it also remained at the stop sign longer than normal, Doering said.
Evans shined his car spotlight on the driver and saw that her head was forward as if she were looking down toward her lap, he said.
“He thought she was asleep at the wheel, and the spotlight woke her up,’’ Doering said.
Smith looked up suddenly, draped her safety belt over her shoulder and then turned onto Perry Lane Road toward Spur 25 at a normal speed, Doering said.
Suspecting criminal activity, Evans got behind the Corolla after it turned onto Spur 25 and turned on his emergency lights, whereupon Smith suddenly accelerated and kept going, reaching a speed of 100 mph with Evans following, Doering said.
There were only two other vehicles along the roadway in the four miles of the chase and the Corolla passed both with no problem, Doering said.
All the traffic lights were green or yellow until the intersection of Cypress Mill. The light there was red but turned green as the Corolla approached, Doering said.
The ambulance had apparently been stopped at the light and was moving in the right lane with its running lights on but no flashing emergency lights, he said.
Evans had slowed, but the Corolla continued under the green light without braking, and its left front struck the right rear of the heavy ambulance, Doering said.
The lane to the left was clear and Smith could have passed, Doering said.
“There was no vehicle that would have stopped her from changing lanes,” he said.
Judging from the videotape, it appeared that Smith considered going around the ambulance on the right but apparently was indecisive, Doering said.
Doering said his office is investigating to determine why Smith fled.
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