By Jason A. Smith
The Henry County Police Department (HCPD) is mourning the loss of one of its own, who was killed on his way to work.
Officer Jimmy Franklin Carter, Jr., 35, died Tuesday in Butts County, according to Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton. He said Carter, an 11-year veteran of the department, died in a traffic crash while on his way to work. "The accident occurred in Butts County, and is being investigated by Georgia State Patrol," Bolton said.
State Trooper J.T. McMillan, who is in charge of the investigation by the state agency, said Carter's death occurred between 9 p.m., and 9:30 p.m., on Keys Ferry Road. McMillan said an "ear witness" heard a crash just north of Jackson Lake, shortly before Carter's Ford Ranger pickup truck was located.
"[Carter] was traveling west on Keys Ferry and approached a curve," said McMillan. "The best we can figure is, he traveled off a small rut at the edge of the roadway. He came back on the roadway, and it was just enough momentum to loosen him up and send him back to the shoulder. He over-corrected, and the truck rotated around, went off the road sideways and struck a tree broadside with the passenger side door."
Carter, according to McMillan, "was not seat-belted in and was killed on impact." The trooper said the State Patrol is trying to determine why the officer lost control of the vehicle.
"There are 100 different reasons why he could have drifted off the road," said McMillan. "We will probably never know why."
Carter worked in a variety of capacities during his career with the Henry Police Department. He served as an officer in the Uniform Patrol Division; as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division; as a K-9 officer, and as a field training officer.
"The men and women of HCPD are at a total loss for words to describe the sadness and sorrow we are experiencing due to the tragic death of Officer Jimmy Carter," said Henry County Police Interim Chief Keith Nichols.
"We are determined to persevere by trying to concentrate on the many positive and heartfelt experiences that we were lucky enough to have with Jimmy," said Nichols. "Jimmy was extremely loyal, and dedicated to his profession, and to the citizens that he so diligently protected in Henry County. Our hearts and prayers go out to Jimmy's family, knowing that they, too, are in shock over this loss of their beloved father, son and brother."
"The atmosphere at the department is extremely somber today as we grieve over the loss of one of our own," Capt. Bolton said. "Jimmy was a good cop, and he will be missed by all."
Funeral arrangements for Carter, the captain said, had not been confirmed as of Wednesday.
Carter is survived by his children, ages 6 and 7, his mother, Geneva, his father, James, Sr., his sisters, Angie and Tammy, and a nephew.