Friday, January 25, 2013

Ethiopian woman died after alleged drunk driver hit 17 cars in Atlanta


Gwinnett County deputies said the driver of a pickup truck responsible for what could be as many as 17 hit-and-run accidents and a fatal crash has not been granted bond after he appeared in court Thursday morning.

According to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Owen Snider, 70, of Stone Mountain, hit five vehicles in DeKalb County and anywhere from eight to 12 vehicles in Gwinnett County along Highway 78. Investigators were still trying to figure the total number of vehicles on Thursday.

The hit-and-run spree ended when police said Snider caused a fata
l accident at Highway 78 and Walton Court in Snellville.

Police said Snider struck the rear of a gray 2000 Toyota Camry, driven by Yeshihareg Abebe, 51, of Grayson.

The impact of the collision caused Abebe’s car to strike a stopped vehicle in front of it and become wedged under the trailer of a tractor-trailer truck that was stopped to the left of it. The vehicle that was in front of the Toyota was pushed into the rear of another stopped vehicle.

The passenger of the Toyota, Mintiwab Woldeyhans, 69, of Loganville, died on scene from her injuries.

Abebe suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to an area hospital. Woldeyhans was Abebe’s mother. She also had two other adult daughters. The family is from Ethiopia.

“I am really angry. He’s drunk driving. He took someone’s life. It’s hard,” said Fiker Abate, a friend.

Officers said Snider crashed into the entranceway of John Boy’s Home Cooking Restaurant.

Snider complained of injuries and was taken to the hospital.

The Johnsons were driving along Highway 78 when Snider’s 2006 Ford Super Duty pickup hit the back of their four-door sedan several times.

“I just thought we were going to die. I just knew he was going to kill us. He would not stop hitting us,” said Jenetta Johnson. “He was just ramming us and ramming us, and then he hit the gas and went around.”

“I thought he would go around us, he hit us again and again. My neck hurts and my back hurts pretty good,” said Manuel Johnson.

When Snider was released from the hospital, he was taken to the Gwinnett County Jail and charged with vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, DUI, reckless driving and following too closely. Additional charges are pending.

Snider made his first appearance in court Thursday morning. He was supposed to have appeared in court on Friday morning, but because of his age and health concerns, his first appearance was expedited.

Snider was not granted bond and is being held in a special area of the jail.

Authorities said Snider is now aware of what happened and a counselor was brought in.

His next hearing is set for Feb. 1.

Gwinnett County police said they have no record of any problems with Snider. One of his neighbors said Snider lived by himself and was quiet.

Police are asking the public to come forward if they have any more information on the accidents.