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Pickup crashes into old mill house at hatchery

A pickup crashed into an old mill house at the McDuffie Fish Hatchery in Dearing the afternoon of Dec. 7.

The accident caused no life-threatening injuries, but the driver was taken to McDuffie Regional Medical Center, said Sgt. Jason Johnson, the commander of the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown. Johnson responded to the accident.

Along with the GSP, the Dearing Fire Department, the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Service and the McDuffie County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene.

Tyrone Howard, 43, of Thomson, was driving a white 1997 Ford Ranger with an attached trailer loaded with plywood. He told Johnson he thought he was on Tudor Road, though he was actually on nearby Fish Hatchery Road.

Howard approached the end of the road but failed to stop at the dead end. He then left the roadway, traveling 388 feet and striking the historic mill, Johnson said.

Two charges are pending for Howard - driving on a closed road and driving under the influence.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources uses the state-owned property as a hatchery, with several public fishing ponds.

George Atnip, the DNR area superintendent, was in his office at the time of the accident.

Atnip watched as Howard drove to the end of the road, driving so fast he was unable to stop, and crashed into the mill house. Atnip said the building is primarily used for storage.

"At this point, we'll wait on a police report then make a determination on what to do next," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, December 15, 2011

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