Series of Hit and Runs Results in Fatality at Highway 78 and Walton Court
The driver, a 70-year-old man, was allegedly drunk, and may have intentionally rammed 15 vehicles. The victim has been identified as Mintiwab Woldeyhans, 69.
Update, Jan 27: Read the most up-to-date information here.
Updated Jan. 24, 10 a.m.
Snellville and Gwinnett County Police responded to a devastating scene late Wednesday night, Jan. 23, after an alleged drunk driver caused a total of 15 accidents stretching from Memorial Drive in DeKalb to Walton Court just outside of Snellville city limits.
According to Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith, the driver ended his rampage when he crashed into John Boy's restaurant on Highway 78. The five-vehicle crash, on Walton, resulted in a fatality.
The victim has been identified as Mintiwal Woldeyhans, 69, of Loganville. A second person, 51-year-old Yeshihareg Abebe of Grayson, suffered life threatening injuries and was transported to a hospital.
Snellville Police were out in the area serving warrants; an officer was traveling north on Ross Road when he saw the pick-up go by, traveling above the speed limit.
"As he got to the intersection and because of traffic, he could not get into traffic and felt it would not be prudent to pursue," said Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead. "The officer quickly encountered a vehicle that had been sideswiped by the pickup and he called it in."
The officer then heard about the accident on Walton. When police arrived, the driver attempted to flee the scene but Snellville Police were able to detain him.
The Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department website shows that Michael Owen Snider, of Stone Mountain, was booked three minutes past midnight on Jan. 24 for DUI - alcohol, following too closely, reckless driving, vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle.
Snider was driving a gray 2006 Ford Super Duty pick-up truck, according to Gwinnett Police, and struck the rear of a grey 2000 Toyota Camry that was slowing to a stop, driven by 51-year-old Yeshihareg Abebe of Grayson.
The impact of the collision caused Abebe to strike a stopped vehicle in front of her and become wedged under the trailer of a tractor/trailer that was stopped to the left of it, according to police reports. The vehicle that was in front of Abebe was pushed into the rear of another stopped vehicle.
Snider then veered off the roadway, through a parking lot and hit the front of Johnboy's Home Cooking restaurant. The passenger of the Toyota, Mintiwab Woldeyhans, died on scene from injuries sustained during the collision.
Abebe suffered life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Snider complained of injuries and was transported to the hospital for treatment. The driver and passenger of the tractor/trailer were not injured. The drivers of the two other vehicles complained of back pain and refused medical treatment.
According to 11Alive, the driver, a 70-year-old man, may have been intentially trying to hit vehicles.
"I was at the light over there and I looked in my rear view and I saw this big pickup truck like a Ford F-350 or something like that," driver Dennis Brown told 11Alive. ""He intentionally tried to hit me so that's when he chased me, literally he chased me, on the road. It was like a video game. Really, I couldn't believe he was trying to do that."
He also hit the vehicle of Jenetta and Manuel Johnson, according to CBS News. The couple also alleged that the ramming was intentional.
"I just thought we were going to die. I just knew he was going to kill us. He would not stop hitting us," Jenetta Johnson told CBS. "He was just ramming us and ramming us, and then he hit the gas and went around."
Her husband, Manuel, said he thought the driver would go around them, but then hit them "again and again."
"My neck hurts and my back hurts pretty good," said Manuel Johnson.
Snellville Patch will update this story as more information is made available.