The three-day Presidents Day Weekend turned deadly Sunday evening on area roads when the Georgia State Patrol reported fatalities in Liberty and Long counties.
Trooper Harry Middleton said an accident on Georgia State Route 57 by mile marker 27 near the Long County/ McIntosh County line claimed the life of Claude William Benada, 58, of Glennville, who was returning home after a weekend in Florida. The victim, whose wife, Judy Benada, was with him in their 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup, was driving north around 4:50 p.m. when he apparently crossed the center line and headed into oncoming traffic, Middleton said.
The Tacoma driver plowed into the driver’s side of a 2007 Ford U-Haul moving truck, injuring Steven Laboy, 26, of Jacksonville, Fla., and his passenger, Juan Gomez, 57, of Hinesville. Both men were taken to Southeast Georgia Regional Medical Center. Their conditions are unknown.
The driver of the Tacoma was pronounced dead at the scene and had to be removed from the vehicle by a member of the Long County Volunteer Fire and Rescue department using the Jaws of Life. Judy Benada was flown to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Her condition also is unknown.
In a separate accident nearly an hour later on Interstate 95 near mile marker 72 in Riceboro, Alice Johndrow, 31, was driving north when she lost control of her 2002 Toyota 4 Runner while attempting to avoid hitting another car that allegedly cut her off. According to GSP Trooper Sgt. 1st Class Thornell King, the victim’s husband, Alexis Johndrow, told police that his wife had been cut off by a maroon-colored vehicle that did not stop. A witness to the accident told King he saw the 4 Runner run off the road but did not see another vehicle cut off Johndrow.
Alice Johndrow had been traveling in the left lane at the time of the accident and drove 80 feet on the shoulder of the road until she entered the grassy median and traveled another 120 feet before the SUV struck a tree head-on. She was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Alexis Johndrow and the couple’s 2- and 8-year-old children were taken to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Their conditions are unknown.
Courier correspondent Mike Riddle contributed to this report.