Crash victim feels lucky to be alive

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

20-year-old Tiara Smith could be looking at more charges after Sunday's deadly wreck at Bobby Jones Expressway and Washington Road.

Andre Cumbermack realizes it could have been him that was killed in the June 4 accident.

Instead he walked away from his car, which is now totaled.

"I saw it coming and I say, 'What the hell is this?'" Cumbermack recalls.

The black Ford Explorer Smith was driving t-boned a Chrysler Cirrus before going airborne and flipping into Cumbermack's 1995 Toyota Corolla.

Deputies say it all started with shoplifting at Marshall's and a high speed getaway.

"They got into a vehicle, sped off, traveled eastbound on Washington Road, ran the red light at Bobby Jones and struck a vehicle that was northbound on Bobby Jones crossing Washington Road," says Maj. Rick Whitacker of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say there was a family of four inside the car Smith hit.

The driver, 37-year-old Lonnie Turner, and his mother, 63-year-old Margaret Branton, both died. Turner's wife Mary lost their unborn child in the crash. Their four year old was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Ranie Cumbermack got to the scene right after a call from her ex-husband.

"Then I saw then bringing bags to put these people and they say those people died instantly," she says.

"I know at the time our traffic unit in contact was with her she was running 70 in a 45," Maj. Whitaker says.

And for Andre Cumbermack, although things appear to be back to normal at Bobby Jones and Washington Road, the markings there are a reminder that something went terribly wrong.

"I was thinking, 'This woman is crazy. Whoever is driving is crazy. Suppose she kill me.'"

"We come home immediately, we kneel down and pray and thank God for saving his life," Ranie Cumbermack says.

Deputies plan to add shoplifting charges to the 11 charges already filed against Tiara Smith after viewing the surveillance tape from the department store.

Tiara Smith's passenger, Nebula McNeely, is in serious condition at MCG. Shoplifting charges are also pending for her.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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