published Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Driver charged in Gordon County wreck that killed 3

A 35-year-old Calhoun, Ga., man was charged Wednesday with vehicular homicide in a deadly crash on Christmas Day that killed two women and a baby.

Brent Leighton Lynch was taken to the Gordon County Detention Center at 6 p.m. and charged with three counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, one count of feticide by vehicle, DUI, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road and failure to maintain lane.

Lynch overcorrected when he swerved off state Highway 53 on Tuesday evening, striking a car driven by 40-year-old April Winters, of Cartersville, Ga., who had a car full of family and friends, officials said.

Winters, 21-year-old family friend Taneka Akies and Akies' infant daughter, Niyla, died at the scene, said Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright in a news release. Four other passengers in both vehicles were injured.

The Gordon County deaths were among the 17 people who died in crashes across Georgia during the five-day holiday -- a drastic increase from last year. In 2011, three people were killed in crashes during the holidays.

Officials cite a longer holiday period -- from 6 p.m. Friday to midnight Tuesday -- as one of the reasons for the increase in deaths, compared with the 78-hour period last year. Other factors in the wrecks the state patrol investigated were alcohol impairment and failure to use seat belts, Wright said.

Four of the deaths occurred in the Atlanta area where the weather was foggy for parts of Monday and rainy Tuesday.

Overall, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 685 crashes and reported 300 injuries during the holiday period.

Meanwhile, the passengers in Winters' car are still being treated at Erlanger, hospital officials said. Alexis Gardner, 20, is in critical condition, and Ratanza Winters, 20, is in fair condition.

Lynch's family also was hurt in the accident. Crystal Lynch, 35, is in critical condition, while Brent Lynch's condition is unknown.

Funeral arrangements haven't been made for Winters or the Akieses.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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