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One killed when car thrown from highway

By Ed Brock

One man was killed when the pickup truck he was driving collided with a tractor-trailer on I-675 and was thrown onto Ga. Highway 138 below.

The driver of the pickup, James Hooks, 44, of Griffin, was involved in the initial accident on I-675 around 3:01 p.m. Friday, Clayton County police Sgt. Brian Busch said.

In that accident Hooks was traveling south in a Chevrolet 110 behind a Jeep Cherokee with the tractor-trailer in the other lane next to the Jeep, Clayton County police Capt. Jeff Turner said.

"He got impatient and decided he wanted to get around the Jeep," Turner said.

The man went onto the shoulder of the road to pass the Jeep and as he was pulling back onto the roadway he clipped the front of the Jeep, lost control and ran into the tractor-trailer.

"As a result of that the (Chevrolet) came down the embankment and into traffic on Highway 138 where it hit (another) pickup truck occupied by an adult male (and two juvenile males)," Busch said.

Kent Vickers, 25, of Stockbridge, and his two sons, 6-year-old Michael and 5-year-old Marcus, were the occupants of the second pickup.

Vickers was taken to Henry Medical Center while both boys were transported to Egleston Children's Healthcare in Atlanta. All three were treated and released.

Rush hour traffic quickly snarled around the area of the accident as both lanes of Highway 138 were closed.

Lonnie Campbell of McDonough was on his way home from Ellenwood when he found that I-675 was closed.

"I was going to take the back roads but it was backed up, too," Campbell said. "I had nowhere to go and I kind of landed in the middle."

Campbell stood in a crowd of people gathered by the bottom of the on-ramp from Highway 138 to I-675 who, like Campbell, were waiting for the accident to be cleared. Cindy Pugh of Forest Park said that her daughter, son-in-law and sister-in-law had come in from Gainesville. They were on their way to McDonough to get the daughter a new birth certificate when the accident occurred.

"They drove an hour to get here and now we're stuck," Pugh said.

But watching the police and rescue workers trying to clear the wreckage put Pugh's misfortune in perspective.

"It's terrible. That car is squashed completely," Pugh said. "It's a hard way to die."