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Wet weather puts damper on holiday

By Justin Boron

Former Stockbridge resident Cpl. Lee H. Phillips, was honored in Ellenwood Monday for leading a bayonet charge up a hill that made him the recipient of a medal of honor. He died November 27, 1950, in Korea.

Phillips, along with other past and present soldiers, were honored in Ellenwood during a service at Horis A. Ward Funeral Home, where 650 American flags had been dug into the cemetery soil.

Maj. Robert Pritchard, U.S. Marine Corps., said the ceremony memorialized "those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation."

The landscape of flags occasionally fluttered in the cool breeze and rain that transformed a day set aside for outdoor events and travel into a disastrous situation for the authorities who dealt with a slew of traffic accidents.

A string of storm cells chugged through the area on Sunday and Monday like a train, said Mike Leary, a National Weather Service forecaster in Peachtree City, forcing several Memorial Day events indoors or to be canceled altogether.

The seemingly constant showers, which dropped between 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of rain, also complicated an already poor traffic situation that resulted in 29 fatalities across the state, a record for the holiday period.

The traffic deaths broke an existing high of 27 set in 1969, the year officials began running a tally of the holiday weekend fatalities, said Trooper Larry Schnall, a Georgia State Patrol spokesman. Several of the accidents involved multiple fatalities, he said.

Schnall said the likely blame for most of the state's more than 2,100 accidents would be speed, alcohol and no seat belts.

He said analysis of the accident data in coming days would also show that bad weather played a role.

Locally, police scrambled to keep up with all the accidents Monday afternoon when precipitation became concentrated in the area.

Dispatch officers could be heard on the police scanner calling out three or four accidents at once, many of them on or near the Interstate 75 corridor.

Almost all of the local accidents were not serious enough to result in deaths, leaving the area relatively unscathed by the weekend's traffic dangers.

But, a man who ran out of the Sherwood Motel in Jonesboro and onto Tara Boulevard was struck by a white car, killing him, said Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner. He could not immediately give the name of the deceased.

Henry County had no fatalities during the weekend as of press time, a spokeswoman for the police department said.

Neither police department could release a breakdown of the accidents and arrests Monday, promising the statistics would be forthcoming by as early as Tuesday.