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Trucks tangle in early morning accident on interstate

By Ed Brock

Clayton County police say the driver of a pickup truck that caused an accident that sent a tractor-trailer off an overpass bridge and onto Interstate 75's northbound lanes Tuesday morning had no license.

Ernesto Gamboa, 20, of Jonesboro has been charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license in connection with the accident that happened at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Clayton County Police Department Capt. Jeff Turner said.

The pickup and the tractor-trailer were traveling west on Forest Parkway when the pickup attempted to change lanes from the far right lane and collided with the tractor-trailer in the center lane, Turner said.

Both drivers lost control of their vehicles and the tractor-trailer, driven by 58-year-old Terry Stephens of Conyers, and loaded with clothes and computer parts, went off the road down an embankment onto the interstate. Stephens was not injured in the accident.

"He was very lucky," Turner said.

Gamboa apparently ran away shortly after the accident.

A day laborer who has been in the country for about three weeks, Gamboa went to a work site in Paulding County where he told his boss that he had had an accident, Turner said. On his boss's advice Gamboa turned himself in to authorities in that county at about 5 a.m. and was escorted by Clayton County police back to police headquarters in Jonesboro for questioning.

He was later taken to Clayton County jail. The 1993 Chevrolet pickup Gamboa was driving belonged to his roommate's cousin and the owner said Gamboa did not have permission to be driving the vehicle.

Turner said the accident tied up traffic on the interstate and on surrounding roads for about three hours. Traveling from the Mt. Zion Boulevard exit on I-75 to the accident scene took about 50 minutes, Turner said. That route, on a normal day, would take 10 to 15 minutes.

City of Morrow employee Lisa Sewell said she usually travels Ga. Highway 54 to her office at the Morrow Tourist Center near I-75, but the traffic congestion caused by the early morning wreck forced her to take back roads instead.