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CSU students injured in storm-related accident

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

A Clayton State University student was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries Thursday evening, after a limb fell on the SUV he was driving, according to police.

Morrow Police Sgt. Larry Oglesby said the man, and his female passenger, had to be cut out of the SUV. The driver suffered possible internal injuries. The passenger was also taken to Grady, but with non-life-threatening injuries.

Their names were not released Thursday evening.

Olgesby said the pair were driving along North Lee Street, heading back to the college, during Thursday night's severe thunderstorm, when lightning struck a tree along the roadway. The strike caused a limb to fall on the vehicle, trapping the pair.

Oglesby said the passenger was able to call 911 for help.

"They [emergency responders] had to use the Jaws of Life, to cut them out of the vehicle," the police spokesman said.

The accident appears to be the worse of what was reported Thursday after a powerful storm roared through Clayton and Henry counties, felling trees and knocking down power lines, leaving some residents without electricity.

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman, Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke, said power lines were down throughout Clayton's Panhandle area.

"It's pretty widespread," she said. "Wind has caused damage to lines, and we have several reports of trees down on houses, in particular at The Mill Mobile Home Park, on Ga. 42 at I-675."

Feilke also said there were reports of transformer fires, but nothing serious.

Steve Rodriguez, an evening watch dispatcher supervisor in Henry County, said the weather produced a very high volume of calls about trees down, mainly on side streets, and in roadways, along with reports of power lines being down.

It was much of the same story across Clayton and Henry counties.

A check with officials at the Henry Medical Center found no hospital admissions related to the weather. A spokesperson for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport could not be reached for comment.

Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said the storm did not produce a significant amount of damage. "Our communications was effected, but we have a back-up generator, so we were fine," he said. Patterson added that a few traffic lights were out, but "citizens cooperated, and treated them as a four-way stop."

"Things went well during the storm," he said, "and most of the power outages were quickly resolved."

Jonesboro police officers said most damage from the storm was minor, as well. There was a large tree limb blocking West Mill Street, and a few power outages in the west end of the city. They said no one reported any major power outages or damages.

Just after 6 p.m., power went out in parts of the Clayton County Library System's headquarters branch in Jonesboro, leaving some areas of the library in darkness, while lights flickered for several minutes in other areas.

It also took down the branch's entire public access computer network, when power was cut off to the computers during a power outage, said Branch Manager Sherry Turner.

As full power returned to the entire library, branch officials went on the library's public address system and made a plea to patrons to not turn computers back on, out of fear of potential damage to the computers.

At 7:14 p.m., Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, which also serves people in Clayton and Henry counties, issued a news release, announcing it had received reports of power outages affecting 8,697 customers across an 11-county area. The power company also encouraged customers to call the power company, at (770) 775-7857, or 1-800-222-4877, if they see downed power lines.

A spokesperson with the Georgia Power Company could not be reached for comment.

Clayton County Police Sgt. Otis Willis said his officers were ready to stand by for any reports of trees blocking roadways. "It is common practice for our officers to go out and stand by any obstruction, to wait for the fire department to arrive with chain saws to clear the road," he said.

Georgia Department of Transportation Spokesperson Jill Goldberg said she had not received any reports of interstate, or state highway blockages in Clayton or Henry counties.

-- Staff Writers Curt Yeomans, Jeylin White, Peter Scott and Maria-Jose Subiria Arauz contributed to this report.