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Thomson High student dies in wreck

A 17-year-old male was killed after the driver of a car lost control and turned over on Rousseau Creek Road in McDuffie County late Saturday. Authorities say alcohol was involved in the crash.

McDuffie County Deputy Coroner Sammy Purvis identified the victim as Lawrence Lee Harris, III, who lived in the Rousseau Creek Road community near Clarks Hill Lake. Mr. Harris, who had attended Thomson High School as a junior last year, was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy was scheduled to be performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta on Monday to determine the exact cause of the teenager's death, Deputy Coroner Purvis said. Those results were pending at presstime.

Friends and former classmates of Mr. Harris held a candlelight vigil in his memory at Thomson High School on Monday night.

Mr. Harris, a passenger, was thrown out of the car through the front windshield, according to Trooper First Class Rich Fishel of the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown. He apparently was killed instantly.

The driver of an Oldsmobile Aurora, which was demolished in the crash, was identified by Trooper Fishel as Phillip Bonner, 22, of the 300 block of Pierce Avenue, Thomson. Mr. Bonner, a graduate of Thomson High School where he played football and baseball, received a head laceration and other bodily injuries.

He was treated at the scene by personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services and firefighters/first responders with the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services. He later was taken by ambulance to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta. He was released Sunday.

Trooper Fishel said Mr. Bonner was rounding a curve while traveling south on Rousseau Creek Road shortly before 11 p.m. Mr. Bonner, whom friends say was en route to a store a few miles away, lost control of the car for unknown reasons.

He left the west shoulder of the roadway before turning over at least once, Trooper Fishel said.

He is facing charges as a result of the crash, Trooper Fishel said. Specific charges still were pending Sunday. Those charges are expected to be filed against Mr. Bonner as soon as blood/alcohol test results are completed. Charges will be handled by a trooper with the state patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstructive Team out of Gainesville.

Trooper Fishel said alcohol was a contributing factor in the mishap. He was assisted in investigating the fatal crash by GSP Post Commander Sgt. Jason Johnson and Trooper First Class Ben Rollins. McDuffie County Sheriff's Department Deputies Marc Thompson and Robert Hoffman also assisted.

It marks the fourth fatality in less than a month on roadways in McDuffie County.

Web posted on Thursday, July 15, 2010

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