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Investigation shows brake failure caused crash

Morrow police said a young woman drove through this construction zone Friday morning and plunged 35 feet to I-75. The road literally ends at the warning signs.

Morrow police said a young woman drove through this construction zone Friday morning and plunged 35 feet to I-75. The road literally ends at the warning signs.

Morrow Police said brake failure caused a local woman to steer her car into a construction zone and onto a gravel road that led to a sheer drop down a 35-foot embankment to southbound I-75.

The driver was able to get out of the car on her own before rescue personnel arrived, although she fainted within minutes, said Detective Sgt. Larry Oglesby.

"That's a good drop," he said. "For her to be able to get out of the car on her own, it's just amazing. I think she was in shock at first."

The driver will not be cited, said Oglesby, who declined to release her name under patient privacy laws. He identified her as a 19-year-old local woman.

Oglesby said the woman, driving a 2001 Nissan Maxima, turned north onto Ga. 54 from Southlake Parkway about 10:30 a.m. In just a few yards, the woman began trying to brake as she encountered traffic. But the car would not stop, and she veered to the right away from traffic, into a construction zone.

"When your brakes fail, you try to do what you can to stop the momentum," he said. "She must have thought something there would help her stop, but she didn't know there was a drop off."

Construction began last year to improve the intersection of Ga. 54 with the exchanges exiting and entering I-75 in Morrow. Georgia Department of Transportation Spokesman Rick Parham said, in a written statement, that the $46.4 million project will add northbound and southbound turn lanes on Ga. 54 by widening the bridge spanning I-75.

Ramps entering and exiting I-75 will be widened to allow for future High Occupancy Use, known as HOV lanes. Closed circuit television and Intersection Video Detection Systems will be installed to monitor traffic flow, said Parham.

DOT officials have warned motorists for about a year to be cautious in the area, and to anticipate delays as lanes close or shift to accommodate the construction. Orange-and-white barrels provide barriers from traffic, posted warning signs can be seen from the north and south, and at least two cranes leave no doubt there is construction going on.

Most drivers heed the warnings, as Friday's accident is the first serious one reported in the Morrow work zone. "Drivers just need to be safe and cautious," said Oglesby. "Don't be in a rush, take your time."

Since the cause of the accident appears to be brake failure, drivers should keep their vehicles in good condition, he added. "Keep your cars in good mechanical condition," said Oglesby. "Even going from home to Wal-Mart. Get your car checked out, make sure the tires are good, the brakes are working. Be proactive."

The woman was alone, and no other cars or property were damaged, he said. She is being treated at an Atlanta hospital for facial injuries, but is expected to fully recover. Oglesby said the woman must have had a guardian angel watching over her.

"That day, she had 'someone' in the front seat, or the back seat, with her," he said. "That's all I'm going to say on that."