The investigation continues into a fatal accident Tuesday involving a Georgia State Patrol trooper where a woman was killed.
GSP Sgt. B. J. Leopold said Trooper First-class Chris Palmer was pursuing a speeding driver heading northbound on U.S. 301 South just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when a 2010 Chevrolet Colorado, driven by Sarah Alice Sikes, 71, Middle Road, Collins, pulled into his path.
Sikes’ truck struck Palmer’s 2007 Dodge Charger patrol car in the passenger side, she said. Reports state Sikes was exiting an off ramp from Interstate 16 when the accident occurred.
Sikes died after being airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Palmer was transported by EMS to East Georgia Regional Medical Center in Statesboro, where he was treated and released for back injuries.
GSP Capt. Kirk McGlamery said Palmer was given a couple days off duty in order to recuperate, per a doctor’s direction, but was not placed on leave.
Since a trooper was involved, the GSP Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team was called immediately to handle the investigation, he said. The SCRT is not a unit within Statesboro’s GSP Post 45 but a separate state unit that is often called to investigate accidents involving serious injury, death, or law enforcement officers.
Leopold said Palmer was beginning to pursue a speeding driver, but had not yet turned on his lights and siren. Since the SCRT investigation is still ongoing, Palmer’s speed has not yet been released.
McGlamery said Georgia law O.C.G.A. (Official Code of Georgia Annotated) 40-6-6 B, C and D state that law enforcement officers using patrol vehicles as emergency response vehicles must use lights and sirens, but it is up to individual troopers to determine at what time during a pursuit to activate them.
Leopold said many law enforcement officers, for safety reasons, will wait until they get close to a vehicle to get the tag and make of the car before activating lights to stop the driver.
It has not yet been determined how long Palmer may have been pursuing the other car or at what speed he was traveling, she said.
McGlamery said every effort is being made to find out what happened and whether either driver was at fault regarding the collision.
“We are looking into the accident. If we find we are at fault, we will come out and report it,” he said. Due to the ongoing SCRT investigation, “We’re prohibited from talking about (the accident in detail) but there is no cover-up. We’re above board.”
When the investigation is completed, all facts found will be public record, he said. Leopold said there are no pending charges at this time.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.