Georgia Legal Report investigators have uncovered more information on the tragic Saturday morning accident which claimed the life of Loretta Williams and seriously injured Linda Estell.
50-year-old Columbus resident, Loretta Williams, was walking with friends along Steam Mill Road around 6:30am Saturday morning when a Muscogee school district worker drifted off the roadway, onto the sidewalk, fatally striking Ms. Williams and critically injuring 63-year-old Linda Estell. A third pedestrian, Randall Williams, sustained minor injuries.
According to Columbus police, 45-year-old Alfie Johnson was driving westbound down Steam Mill Road in a Muscogee school district issued Ford F-150 truck when he drifted onto the sidewalk and into a group of pedestrians. The accident occurred on Steam Mill Road, down the hill from the Shirley Winston Park entrance, in front of the Pierce Chapel AME Church.
Randall Williams, a witness and friend of Loretta Williams and Linda Estell, was grazed and bruised by the truck as she pushed another walker, Eddie Ford, out of its path. She described the horrific accident for the Ledger Enquirer, "I could feel the truck behind me...I saw his lights out of my peripheral vision, and I could feel him being real close, and I thought, 'He is too close.' And he was on the sidewalk." The pick-up truck continued into Loretta Williams and Linda Estell, who were walking a few feet ahead. "He hit both of my friends, and they flew about 10 feet."
Loretta Williams and Linda Estell were taken to The Medical Center in Columbus. Ms. Williams succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash and, according to her daughter, was pronounced dead at the Columbus Medical Center at 8:25am. Linda Estell has been transferred from the Medical Center to a long term rehabilitation center in Atlanta, suffering incomplete quadriplegia and partial memory loss.
The four walkers were part of a larger walking and exercise club, which met regularly at the Shirley Winston Park. Friend and fellow walking club member, Geneva Turner, said Loretta Williams was dedicated to her health and exercise. "She was proud of the fact that she had lost so much weight; she had got off diabetic medicine; she was no longer a diabetic."
"She and I walked together, every day, seven days a week, and every day, we would pray....She always would encourage me; I would encourage her. We were a family out there. We took care of one another," recalls Randall Williams.
From a hospital bed, Linda Estell learned about Ms. Williams' death. "Oh my God, Oh my God, she was such a good person. She didn't deserve that." Now, she's asking questions about the man who killed her friend and forever changed her life. She wants to know if Mr. Johnson was impaired or texting while driving.
Attorneys at The Murray Law Firm are also investigating the details of how this horrific accident occurred and whether distraction or impairment were factors in the crash. As it appears Mr. Johnson is at fault in this incident, the family of Loretta Williams may elect to hold him civilly liable for the wrongful death of their family member. Linda Estell may also elect to hold Mr. Johnson civilly liable for her substantial injuries. Total financial recovery could be in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Of course, compensation is not of importance to a grieving a family, but legal experts warn it is critical that the families retain an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney immediately to ensure evidence is preserved and the families best interests are protected.
Although accident victims and families are rightfully entitled to maximum insurance coverage limits, all too often insurance companies and unscrupulous parties are reluctant to pay victims what they deserve. Further, as Mr. Johnson appears to have been working for the Muscogee School District at the time of the accident, the county may get involved to protect their interests. As such, having an experienced injury attorney to represent the best interests of the victims through these complex negotiations is essential.
Our prayers are with Linda Estell and the grieving family of Ms. Williams. We offer our legal assistance, if needed. Anyone seeking further information on this tragic accident is encouraged to contact The Murray Law Firm toll free at 888.842.1616.