By Ed Brock
Michael Ronald Hall's two sons are home now, trying to come to grips with the death of their father in an accident that happened as he was bringing them home from a baseball game.
"We have one (son) with a swollen jaw and some aches but they ran some X-rays on him and didn't find any broken bones," said the boys' grandfather Dr. Samuel Tucker, adding that the other son also had some minor injuries. "Looking at the condition of that car they were very fortunate."
Around 10 p.m. Monday 43-year-old Hall, of Atlanta, and the boys, 9-year-old Michael and 6-year-old Marcus, were driving north on I-75 from McDonough where the Little League game was held. Just south of the Forest Parkway exit Hall was forced to swerve to avoid a clothes dryer that was in the middle of his lane, according to the Clayton County police report.
Witnesses told police that Hall lost control of his Isuzu Rodeo and it began to tumble. By the end of that free fall Hall was dead.
Investigators found the battered remains of the dryer, which was brand new and still in the box, at the accident scene where it had been hit by at least one car behind Hall's. Using serial numbers and other information on the dryer they traced its origin to a Home Depot store on Jonesboro Road north of Forest Park.
But the trail stopped there temporarily when the store refused to let investigators see the documents regarding the dryer, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.
"They are not being very cooperative," Turner said.
Police are expected to subpoena the company for the documents Wednesday. Home Depot public relations personnel did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.
One of the mysteries surrounding the accident is if the dryer was purchased at the store how it ended up in the south-bound lane of the interstate south of the store. One question is whether it was bought at the store or on the way to the store from some other facility like a warehouse.
Besides the Forest Park store, there is also one on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow near the interstate.
Computerized records from the store might show the purchaser, time of purchase and other pertinent information. The Forest Park store closes at 10 p.m.
Michael and Marcus were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center for treatment. Michael told investigators that they were in the back seat, wearing seatbelts, at the time of the accident.
Hall had been an assistant dean and director of the MBA program at Clark Atlanta University, his alma mater, for more than a year, said Ed Davis, dean of the university's School of Business.
Davis also taught Hall when he was a student at the school in the 1980s, during which time Hall also met his wife, then fellow student Sabrina Tucker Hall. Davis visited the family on Tuesday.
"The boys are in a state where they don't quite know what's going on," Davis said. "His wife is just devastated."
Hall "brought a new energy and vitality to the job," Davis said.
That was how Tucker and Tucker's son Sam Tucker Jr. remember Hall. The younger Tucker said that Hall was from Memphis, Tenn.
"I miss him a lot already," Tucker said.
Home Depot's resistance to the investigation has the family very unhappy, Tucker said.
"My father used to be a big investor in Home Depot. He's livid. That's just offensive," Tucker said.
Tucker said he had gone to the circus with Hall on Sunday. He said that as he drove his sister Sabrina Hall home from the hospital she had panic attacks each time she saw a truck.
"Michael was one of the nicest, most decent people I have ever known," Tucker said.
The family had not yet made funeral arrangements for Hall as of Tuesday evening.