Driver Sentenced in Fatal 2009 Crash on U.S.78

A DeKalb County State Judge sentences James Miles to five years; he's to serve two of them in the work release program.

The DeKalb Solicitor-General's office said Thursday that James Miles of Loganville pled guilty to vehicular homicide, reckless driving, following too closely, failure to maintain lane, and improper lane change that led to an accident on U.S. 78 (Stone Mountain Freeway) in 2009 in which three people died and six were injured.

DeKalb State Court Judge Johnny Panos sentenced Miles to five years, two of which he is to serve in the work release program, the Solicitor-General's officer said.

Miles also must perform 240 hours of community service, attend three victim impact panels, and a defensive driving course. His license is to be suspended for five years as a condition of his probated sentence, the court ordered.

Witnesses told police that Miles clipped the back of the commuter van during rush hour traffic in October 2009. The van's driver lost control and overturned, police said.

The driver of the van, Robert Harold Clinton Jr., and two passengers, Ollie Benny Stephens Jr., and Cindy Fitzgerald, all of Lilburn, were killed. Injured were passengers Wanna Philpot and Gary Davis, both of Stone Mountain; Sandra Bonner and Courtney Singleton-Hill, both of Lilburn; Chris Ellis and Keith Reese, both of Lawrenceville, news organizations reported from police.

The van was carrying Georgia Power employees.

“These types of case are among the most tragic our office sees," DeKalb County Solicitor-General Sherry Boston said in a release about the hearing. "The victims in this case were on their way home from work in a commuter van that their company had provided. They were doing what we all do each day – heading home after a long, hard day of work while trying to make a living."

"Sadly, the defendant didn’t take the time to follow the rules of the road and drive responsibly and safely.  His careless decision-making had catastrophic consequences. Nothing will bring back the lives that were lost in this tragic, avoidable vehicle crash or give peace of mind to their families and those who were seriously injured. Today’s plea will be a step in bringing justice and, perhaps, some closure to the victims, their families, and the survivors.  Let today be a reminder to us all to drive safely and responsibly. An unsafe lane change and weaving-in-and-out of traffic can have deadly consequences.”

wps September 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Thank you
thcooper69 September 29, 2012 at 01:28 PM
i drive 78 east alot from midtown ,these vans carring many heads in them ,weave in and out of traffiks with out blinkers cutting of cars left and right ,i paced myself with vans occasinally and we were doin 86 in a 55 . there were more than 12 people in van . it had mlb on side of van and eventually later turned into snellville oaks plaza . most of the drivers i see driving are on there cell phones blabbin .
Andrew Ellis February 05, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Reading some of these comments makes me sick that some people can defend a man who through his Charles's and irresponsible acts killed 3 people. I was lucky that my mother Chris Ellis survived this horrible accident, but before I learned that she had survived I was told that she was dead 3 different times. I don't think many people know what it feels like to hear those words. This so called "Christian" man should not have his friends hide him behind a bible. 5 years is too short of time to pay for taking 3 lives and forever changing my life and the life of my family. I could say many horrible things but I will refrain, but I hope that this monster of a man suffers the pain he has put me and my family through until his last breath. I can never forgive this man for the horror I was put through on October 13, 2009.
Andrew Ellis February 05, 2013 at 09:06 AM
You must live in a fairy tale. Put your bible down and wake up to the fact that this man killed 3 people and forever altered the lives of others including mine and my mother's (who was in the accident). God fairing or not he deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life for the multitude of decisions that he made that led o this accident. He can sing to Jesus ever day he is in prison, but he can not begin to comprehend or understand how he as affected the lives of all that were involved. God's amazing work for him in prison should have been to rot, not go out and still earn an income everyday. Wake up to the real world!!!
Anner Goudelock May 21, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Ollie was a very devoted man to his family and his spirtial belife he was a teacher and leader of youth groups in his church. Ollie was one that did not only do church activities to make a show but he lived the life, he obeyed the law on the road and off. He respected the rights for others and did not do things that he knew would put others in danger. Miles took a man's life that was only loving God and our family. Ollie's aunt Anner


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