Wet roads may have been a contributing factor in a head-on collision on Augusta Highway that claimed the life of a McDuffie County man and injured two other persons near Thomson on Monday afternoon, authorities say.
McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack identified the deceased man as 57-year-old Danny Wilson, of the 3100 block of Quail Farm Road, Thomson. The coroner said Mr. Wilson, who apparently was killed instantly after being ejected from a small pickup truck, was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:46 p.m.
Coroner Mack said an autopsy would be performed on Wednesday at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Augusta to determine the exact cause of Mr. Wilson's death.
Mr. Wilson's son, meanwhile, who was in the Dodge Dakota SLT pickup, was injured. Trooper Mike Callaway of the Georgia State Patrol Post in Thomson said Rocky Wilson was taken to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta for treatment of various injuries received in the crash that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Rocky Wilson was listed in good condition Tuesday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The driver of the other vehicle, a GMC Yukon XL, Terrie Gribanow, of Deerfield Road, Dearing, was listed in fair condition at MCG. She received leg and other injuries. McDuffie County EMS, firefighters/first responders treated the injured at the scene, as well as Mrs. Gribanow's two children, ages 4 and 6, who were not injured.
A preliminary investigation of the crash, which happened in a stretch of roadway between Harrison Road and Moose Club Road, indicated that the driver of the pickup may have hydroplaned on the wet highway causing him to veer across the centerline into the path of the oncoming Yukon, Trooper Callaway said.
Since it could not immediately be determined who was driving the pickup, troopers sought assistance from troopers assigned to the Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team. That particular portion of the investigation was still underway late Tuesday, according to Sgt. First Class Mark Bentley, who is being assisted in the probe by Sgt. Jeff Kidd.
Trooper Callaway said Mrs. Gribanow, who works as a media specialist at Dearing Elementary School, reported that the driver of the pickup hydroplaned and that she attempted to avoid the crash by veering into a grassy area along the shoulder of the roadway.
Both vehicles sustained extensive front end damage.
Deputies Mike Hobbs, Kalvin Johnson, Robert Hoffman and Bret Bentley worked traffic and helped motorists detour around the wreck until the highway was reopened shortly before 9:30 p.m.