The death toll from Friday’s two-vehicle crash on Ga. Highway 36 rose to five over the weekend.
The driver of a Chevrolet Impala that had earlier fled a traffic stop on Interstate 75 died Saturday afternoon at an Atlanta hospital, according to Butts County Coroner Ralph Wilson. Shikym Jenkins of Garden City was 23 years old.
Two passengers in Jenkins’ vehicle, along with two passengers in a pickup it struck, were killed in the crash Friday around 5:30 p.m. at Nathan Thaxton Road.
The Georgia State Patrol identified the passengers in the Impala as Ebony Young, 25, of Savannah and Sukquawn Hayes, 26, of Garden City.
The Impala struck a pickup driven by Thomas Bowden, 79, of Covington, according to the State Patrol. The front passenger of the truck was identified as Ronald Martin, 76, of Covington. Bowden was taken to a Macon hospital in critical condition and Martin was taken to an Atlanta hospital in stable condition.
Rear passengers Judy Martin, 72, of Covington and Sandra Bowden, 76, of Covington were both killed in the crash, the State Patrol said.
The pickup was traveling westbound on Ga. Highway 36 when it was struck by the Impala, which had earlier been pursued by a sheriff’s deputy in Monroe County, according to Butts County Sheriff Gary Long.
A Monroe County deputy initiated a traffic stop of the Impala on I-75, but the vehicle sped away as the deputy exited his patrol car and approached on foot, Long said. The Impala exited the interstate at Ga. Highway 36 and headed east. By the time the vehicle had exited the interstate, Long said the Monroe County deputy had lost sight of it.
As a Butts County deputy headed west on Ga. 36 toward I-75 to assist, he was nearly stuck head-on as the Impala passed at what was believed to be in excess of 100 mph, Long said. The deputy was delayed in turning around to give chase by eastbound traffic.
When the Butts County deputy was able to turn around and head east toward Jackson, he was met with the crash scene at Nathan Thaxton Road, Long said, where it appeared the suspect vehicle had left the roadway on the right shoulder, and veered back into the oncoming westbound lane where it struck the pickup.
“The suspect vehicle ... was still running 100 plus miles per hour and nearly killed my deputy as they were traveling in his lane of travel,” Long said. “The vehicle was not being pursued by law enforcement at that time.”
Long said Jenkins, the driver of the Impala, was wanted on outstanding warrants out of Chatham County. Hayes, Long said, had a loaded pistol in his hand when he was killed in the crash and was also wanted out of Chatham County.
Long said Young, the female passenger in the Impala, was released from prison last December after serving two months of a six-year sentence on charges involving drug possession and fleeing law enforcement.
“Under Georgia’s current criminal justice reform she was released after serving only two months of a six-year sentence. As I see more innocent people killed at the hands of criminals released back into society under the reform, instead of serving their sentence, I can only hope that it would have our state legislators rethinking this horrible criminal justice reform,” Long said. “If she was where the judge had sent her these innocent people might still be alive.”