A standout Wayne County High School baseball player died in a wreck Saturday afternoon as he was traveling to Georgia Southern University, Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles said.
J.D. Paul, 18, was driving on Highway 301 when his vehicle collided with a logging truck between mile markers 18 and 19 in Long County shortly after 2 p.m., Nobles said.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Chris Palmer said a witness to the accident stated that he was traveling northbound on 301 when, for an unknown reason, traffic began to slow down. The witness told Palmer that as he was looking in his rearview mirror, he saw a red Mustang, driven by Paul, enter the southbound lane.
The witness told Palmer that Paul over-corrected the Mustang and tried to re-enter the northbound lane.
Mitchell D. Bernard, 54, who was driving southbound in an 18-wheel logging truck based in Vidalia, told Palmer that he tried to avoid striking the Mustang but was unable to do so.
The car struck the tractor-trailer on the front lefthand side. Palmer said both vehicles ended up in the northbound lanes.
Nobles said Long County sheriff’s deputies helped Ludowici/Long County Fire and Rescue extract Paul from the car.
Palmer said Paul was flown to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, where he was pronounced dead several hours later.
Paul, who had reportedly committed to play for Georgia Southern, was heading to the university campus.
Paul was a standout pitcher at Wayne County High. This past year, he helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a 22-10 record and a trip to the state tournament quarterfinals. He also was selected as the Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year.
"This is a real tragedy,” Nobles said. “This young man was just starting his adult life.”
Look for more details as they become available on coastalcourier.com and in Wednesday’s Coastal Courier.