UPDATE | Family, friends remember 3 kids killed in accident 1 year ago

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UPDATE: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- One year after an accident kills three boys on Riverwatch Parkway family and friends are laying a cross and releasing balloons.

Friends said the accident happened at the intersection of Riverwatch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road at 5:48 p.m. on June 1, 2015.

8-year-old John Powell, 9-year-old Quamaine Jones, and 9-year-old Eric Smalls were all killed in the accident. Christopher Whitehead and Wade Jackson were both charged with vehicular homicide and running a red light.

According to the accident report, witnesses told deputies both drivers were trying to run a red light at the intersection of Riverwatch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road. Jackson was trying to make a left turn onto Stevens Creek road when police say Whitehead ran the red light, hitting Jackson's car.

The report said everyone in both vehicles were wearing their seat belt when Whitehead's Dodge Ram pick-up truck crashed into the right side of Jackson's Toyota Corolla car.


UPDATE: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Bond has been set for the two drivers in the fatal Riverwatch Parkway accident, who are accused of running a red light that killed three elementary school boys.

Christopher Whitehead and Wade Jackson appeared in court for the first time Tuesday. Bond was set for Whitehead at $20,000. Jackson's bond was set at $10,000.

Both men are charged with three counts of vehicular homicide, and running a red light. Whitehead is also charged with speeding.


News 12 at 11 o'clock, Monday, June 15, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It was an accident that killed 3 young boys on Riverwatch Parkway. 8 year old John Powell, 9 year old Quamaine Jones, and 9 year old Eric Smalls. Now both drivers involved in the accident, Christopher Whitehead and Wade Jackson, are charged with vehicular homicide and running a red light. Whitehead also racked up another charge for speed.

The speed limit on Riverwatch Parkway is 45 miles per hour. Deputies say pick up truck driver Christopher Whitehead was driving approximately 67 miles an hour. Whitehead was driving on Riverwatch towards I-20 when deputies say he ran a red light at the Stevens Creek intersection. They say Wade Jackson was trying to turn left onto Steven's Creek in his Toyota Corolla. The report says Whitehead's truck hit the right side of Jackson's car, spinning it out of control. Jackson was going 19 miles per hour. The crash caused Whitehead's car to roll over.

But this isn't Whitehead's first traffic violation. In 2000, he was charged with speeding, the next year charged with not wearing a seat belt. He was charged with speeding again in 2009. Jackson doesn't have any past traffic violations.

While deputies may not always be able to control how fast people drive, engineers are trying to make this intersection safer.

"Obviously yeah, any area where there's going to be accidents, heaven forbid a fatality like we unfortunately had a few weeks ago, that is something that you got to be aware of and obviously we analyze the statistics," said Georgia DOT Kyle Collins. "As you can see in the concept report it mentions a decent amount of crashes from about 2010 to 2013."

They'll make left turn only signals instead of yielding on green signals along with more lighting, and a crosswalk for pedestrians. Changes should come within the next couple of months.


Monday, June 15, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Both drivers have been charged in the triple fatal crash on Riverwatch Parkway, according to a report released by the Augusta Traffic Safety Division.

Wade Jackson, 32, and Christopher Whitehead, 33, were both charged with three counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of John Powell, 8, Quamaine Jones, 9, and Eric Smalls Jr, 9.

Investigators say both Jackson's Toyota Corolla and Whitehead's Dodge Ram ran red lights at the intersection of Riverwatch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road on June 1.

Whitehead was also charged with disobedience of a traffic control device and driving too fast for conditions while Jackson was charged with disobedience of a traffic control device.

According to the incident report, the Ram entered the intersection going approximately 67 mph and the Corolla was turning onto Stevens Creek Road at approximately 19 mph. Investigators say both ran the light and that the Corolla was unable to stop or avoid the collision.

Both Whitehead and Jackson are now detained at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center. A bond has not yet been set.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The funeral for one of the children killed in the Riverwatch Parkway crash will be laid to rest Friday. The service for Eric Smalls, 9, will be at the Macedonia Baptist Church on Wrightsboro Road at noon.

C.T. Walker Magnet School in Augusta says they will be holding a memorial service in honor of Smalls Wednesday night.

The memorial service will be held Wednesday, June 10, at 6 p.m. in the butterfly garden behind the school building. The public is invited to attend.

The community is asked to bring balloons to release in honor of Smalls. Anyone who comes is encouraged to wear school colors of maroon and gold.

Visitation will be Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Second Shiloh Baptist Church on Summer Street.



Monday, June 8, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- News 12 is learning new information in the crash that killed 3 elementary school children.

Witnesses tell investigators both drivers went through a red light in the seconds before the crash.The report also shows that all three children were riding in the same car with their seat belts on during the crash. The report however doesn't assign blame to either driver involved in the accident. Investigators say the investigation is not over, but charges are pending.

Richmond County Sheriff's office traffic officials also say they are not looking at speed as a factor in this crash investigation. Instead they are focusing on traffic patterns, like how often lights are changing colors and when turn arrows are coming on.

News 12 also found out how many accidents have happened on Riverwatch Parkway at Stevens Creek Road in the past 3 years. There have been 8 so far this year, 20 accidents in 2014, and only 6 in 2013.

The Sheriffs office say charges are pending, but they still haven't said if charges will come against one driver or both.



Monday, June 8, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Richmond County deputies still piecing together information about a crash that killed three children.

According to the accident report, witnesses told deputies both drivers were trying to run a red light at the intersection of Riverwatch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road.

The report said everyone in both vehicles was wearing their seat belt when Christopher Whitehead's Dodge Ram pick-up truck crashed into the right side of Wade Jackson's Toyota Corolla car.

The report says the impact caused Whitehead's truck to roll onto its side, before landing upright again. Jackson's car spun around after the crash.

So far, neither driver has been charged in the accident. Deputies say the full crash investigation should be wrapped up by the end of this week.


Friday, June, 5, 2015

News 12 at First at Five/ Friday, June 5, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) ---- A community in mourning after 9-year-old Eric Jamal Simon-Smalls becomes the latest victim of that crash. Smalls is the third child victim from Monday's accident on Riverwatch and Steven's Creek. 9-year-old Quamaine Jones died at the hospital Tuesday.

8-year-old John Powell died on scene Monday. News 12's Jorge Lopez talks to family and a principal who knew two of these young children.

It's a sad story that just can't catch a break.

"No it really can't. It's devastating to every school, every kid, and every family involved," said Smalls' Principal Aletha Snowberger.

Snowberger is a principal at C. T. Walker where Eric Smalls went to school. Monday's tragic accident on Riverwatch Parkway finally took his life Friday.

"How is all that emotion," asked News 12's Jorge Lopez.

"It's raw--it's very raw. These kids are our kids and we take care of them everyday from 8 o'clock to 3 o'clock every afternoon and they are like our children," Ms. Snowberger told News 12.

While investigators piece together what happened-- the family of Quamaine Jones-- the second child who died-- holds on to the one piece that's left.

"When he left from the house he was happy . The first thing he told his mom was , "I love you momma" and then after that he said I'll see ya later grandma and I said, "ok baby I love you too," said Quamaine's Grandmother, Mary Jones.

Jones says she feels like she's living without her heart

"During the night I am just sitting on the side of the bed listening to my gospel because that is what he would say, "grandmama if anything wrong with you how about letting me turn your gospel on and let you listen to that," she said.

Jones says the lyrics have never been more true for her and all the families--including 8 year old John Powell who died on scene.

"All of my good days--override my bad days--I won't complain. For God has been good to me," sang Quamaine's Grandmother.

Quamaine Jones--the second boy who died-- was a proud older brother according to his grandmother who would've celebrated his birthday next month. 8-year-old John Powell was pronounced dead on the scene of the crash.



Friday, June 5, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A third victim has died after a crash on Riverwatch Parkway Monday.

Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen has said Eric Jamal Simon-Smalls, 9, died at Georgia Regents Children's Medical Center Friday morning.

Smalls was pronounced dead at 8:37 a.m. Friday, Bowen said.

The cause of death is listed as multiple blunt force trauma, according to Mark Bowen.

According to the sheriff's office, Christopher Whitehead was driving a Dodge Ram eastbound on Riverwatch Parkway when the driver of a Toyota Corolla, Wade Jackson, attempted to turn left onto Stevens Creek Road.

All three children who died in the crash were Richmond County students. John Powell wen to Warren Road Elementary, Quamain Jones went to Houghton Elementary School, and Eric Simon-Smalls went to C. T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, according to the Richmond County School System.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Richmond County Schools have said a vigil for John Powell, a Warren Road Elementary student who died after a crash, is scheduled for Thursday night at Warren Road Elementary.

The vigil will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Warren Road Elementary, according to the Richmond County School system.

John Powell, 8, and Quamaine Jones, 9, were in the backseat of a Corolla when they were killed after an accident on Riverwatch Parkway on Monday, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has said the STAR team will be out at the accident scene Friday at 10 a.m. to reconstruct the accident.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has released the name of the two drivers involved in Monday's Riverwatch Parkway accident that killed two children.

According to the sheriff's office, Christopher Whitehead was driving a Dodge Ram eastbound on Riverwatch Parkway when the driver of a Toyota Corolla, Wade Jackson, attempted to turn left onto Stevens Creek Road.

Both John Powell, 8, and Quamaine Jones, 9, were in the backseat of the Corolla when it was hit and both were killed.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office STAR team will re-construct the accident and the accident scene before releasing the definitive cause of the crash. Charges are pending at this time.



News 12 @ 6 o'clock / Tuesday, June 2, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A second child has died after a traffic accident on Riverwatch Parkway. It happened a little after five Monday at the intersection of Riverwatch and Stevens Creek Road.

Monday started off as a normal day for Eric Kennedy. "Camp is finished up around 5 to 5:15 so I was heading home with my oldest son, Cameron," Kennedy said.

He was leaving Stevens Creek Community Church on Stevens Creek Road when he saw a white truck in a ditch and a silver Toyota in the road. "Emergency crews weren't on scene yet so I felt lead like I just needed to help and see if everyone is okay," he said.

So he parked his car at the car wash and left his son in the car. "Then I heard this guy just scream really loud so I ran over to the car. That's when I just saw everything with the kids," he said.

Two children were in the back seat of the car. Kennedy and others cut their seat belts off and tried to pry the doors off. "One lady used her thumb to try to intubate the child just try to get some air in him," Kennedy said.

Coroner Mark Bowen tells News 12 eight-year-old John Powell was pronounced dead at the scene. Nine-year-old Quamaine Jones died hours later at GRU. "In that moment you just automatically think about your own children five or ten minutes earlier that could've been me or Cameron," the father said.

It's a scene he will never forget. "I wish that I could've at least opened... Just do something instead of just standing there and wait," he said.

And today he carries a heavy heart for everyone involved. "And I just feel so sad for that family to lose an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old. Cameron is turning eight in just two weeks. I just couldn't do that. I couldn't be me any longer if that happened to me," he said.

Investigators have not released the names of anyone else involved in the crash or if anyone will be facing charges. There are two others being treated at GRU. Their condition is unknown at this time. We'll keep you updated on this story.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A second child has died from Monday night’s crash at Riverwatch and Stevens Creek.

Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen has identified the victim as Quamaine Jones,9, of Augusta. Jones was pronounced dead after 11 Monday night at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Jones will be sent to the GBI in Atlanta lab for an autopsy which will probably be done Wednesday. Jones was the backseat passenger of the vehicle and was wearing a seatbelt.

John Powell,8, was also killed in that crash. He was pronounced dead Monday evening.



News 12 @ 11 o'clock / Monday, June 1, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- An eight-year-old boy, killed in a car crash on Riverwatch Parkway Monday afternoon. The accident happened around 5:15PM. Coroner Mark Bowen says eight-year-old John Powell died in the crash.

Blue lights fill the streets of Riverwatch Parkway at Stevens Creek Road earlier Monday evening.

Coroner Mark Bowen tells News 12 a white pick up truck hit a silver Toyota on Riverwatch Parkway. "What we know for sure is that we have one car going west and one car going east on Riverwatch Parkway," Lt. Ramone Lamkin with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said.

The collission left one dead, eight-year-old John Powell. The coroner says the boy was wearing on his seatbelt and sitting in the back seat on the passenger side of the car, the same side hit by the truck. Three other people were injured in the crash, all three of them are being treated GRU. "Serious condition right now, that's all we know right now, we'll have more details when we get more information down at the hospital," Lamkin said.

It's the second fatal accident involving a child in less than a week. Sunday, family and friends said goodbye to Kyrie Henry, the four-year-old killed in a school bus crash in Beech Island. "I couldn't imagine what the young lady is going through, losing her son and stuff. And I feel like we should all stand with her as mothers, you know, and as parents," Aiken County parent Matasha Jones said. And now, another family mourns a young boy.

It was very emotional at the scene. Family and friends were hugging each other and crying.



Monday, June 1, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga (WRDW) --- Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen says a child died after an accident on Riverwatch Parkway.

John Powell, 8, died when the silver Toyota Corolla car he was riding in was hit by a white Dodge pick-up truck, Bowen said.

He said Powell was wearing a seatbelt.

Dispatch sent deputies to the scene at Riverwatch Parkway and Steven's Creek Road just after 5:30 this afternoon.

Officials are have closed off Riverwatch Parkway at Steven's Creek Road from Fury's Ferry Road. Avoid the area if you can.