Truck driver facing charges in accident that killed mother, daughter

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October 11, 2006

This story has been updated. It was previously reported that the truck driver, Thomas Lattimore, faced two counts of vehicular homicide. Capt. James Griffin says that the sheriff's office decided those charges might not be appropriate. Lattimore is only charged with stopping on the roadway.

A fatal accident kills a mother and her daughter instantly.

It happened around 1 o'clock this afternoon in front of Yancey Brothers at 4165 Mike Padgett Highway, where Julie George rammed her Chevrolet Astro into the back end of an 18-wheeler.

The driver of that truck is now facing charges.

He was parked on the side of the highway and the woman hit him, but deputies say his truck should not have been there.

However, witnesses say it wasn't the truck driver's fault.

Imagine hitting a brick wall going sixty miles an hour.

"People should have seen the truck," said witness Bobby Fiveash. "That's a big vehicle."

And that big vehicle was the last thing Julie George saw before she and her 3-year-old daughter Brianna were killed after crashing head-on into its rear.

"For some reason, just seemed to drift over into the same lane that was already occupied by the 18-wheeler," Capt. James Griffin of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office told News 12.

The family's van was completely crushed. But the truck is solid - 33,000 pounds and made of steel. The driver, Thomas Lattimore, says he didn't even feel the impact.

But Lattimore is feeling the consequences of careless driving...not by him, but by a woman who likely took her eyes off the road.

He's now charged with stopping on the roadway.

We spoke with a different USA truck driver, Troy Barclay, and asked what his company's policy is about that.

"You shouldn't pull over for any old thing," Barclay told us. "Short of an emergency, you should keep on going."

Lattimore told us he pulled over to read directions. He was on his way through Augusta to Gulfport, Mississippi.

He said he even had his hazards on.

"You want to wait and pull into a truck stop or a scale or a rest area," Barclay said.

But not everyone agrees Lattimore is to blame.

"They shouldn't have been all the way over in the other lane," Fiveash said. "The truck was parked there, they should have seen it."

Thomas Lattimore went back home to Ohio, but he will have to return to Richmond County for a court appearance.

The other child in the van, Brianna's twin brother Barton, is at MCG with his father and grandparents. He's wearing a neck brace but suffered no internal injuries or broken bones.

Julie and Brianna George died at the scene.

This is not the first time this area has seen a deadly accident.

On November 6, 2003, a 43-year-old man was killed in a 3 car accident. The man's car was hit head on by another car. That car then flipped on top of another car.

That stretch of road is right next to International Paper, where logging trucks come and go all day long. Back in March, one of those trucks rolled over, spilling logs all over the road. Traffic was back up for quite some time, but fortunately no one was hurt.

That driver was charged with failing to slow down while turning.