Services to mark first anniversary of tragedy

Three teens killed when hit by car Aug. 25

JONESBORO — The first anniversary of the deaths of three teenagers killed when a car plowed into them as they walked along a Stockbridge highway will be marked Saturday with a memorial service.

Pastor Donald Battle of Divine Faith Ministries International at 9800 Tara Blvd. will lead the 4 p.m. services. Octavius Sorrells and Timothy Aaron, both 17, and Antonious Bishop, 16, were walking on the shoulder of Ga. 138 east near the I-675 overpass when they were struck by a car driven by Priscilla Dianne Johnson, 49, of Lithonia.

Medical bills for the families of the three have been astronomical, said church officials. An account at Bank of America has been established to help defray costs. Donations can be made to #334036429835 at any branch.

Police said Johnson was under the influence of medication and arguing on a cell phone at the time of the crash. According to arrest warrants, Johnson kept driving after hitting the three teens, stopping only when she hit a light pole. When police arrived, Johnson allegedly got into the driver’s seat of a patrol car, pulled away violently from officers and wouldn’t follow commands, allege warrants.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, failure to stop and render aid, unlawful use of a wireless device, driving on a suspended license and without insurance.

A Clayton County grand jury indicted her in May.

Johnson is being held on $450,000 bond and failed in an attempt last month to get it reduced. During that bond hearing, the mothers of Bishop and Sorrells testified to the pain and grief they suffer every day without their sons.

Lakesha Green said Bishop was her middle child and that all three friends were close to each other.

“He was a junior in high school, living the life of a teenager,” she said during the hearing. “He loved skateboarding and going to church. He was a people person. He never met a stranger.”

Sorrells’ mother, Nicole Green, also spoke against lowering Johnson’s bond. She said her youngest son’s death has traumatized her.

“He’d just gotten accepted into the military academy and was going to join the Air Force,” she said. “I can’t talk to my son except in spirit. I have photographs of him, I can visit the cemetery, smell his clothes, but he’s gone.”

During the same hearing, Johnson’s attorney, Larry Melnick, painted his client as a caring and compassionate caregiver who’d suffered from blackouts but didn’t know why.

“Two weeks before this accident, she was put on anti-anxiety drugs,” he said. “She was taking meds. She took a look at her behavior, saw a problem, addressed the problem and was taking meds for the problem.”