Pooler police released limited information Monday about the fatal crash in Pooler Friday that took the life of a Bulloch County commissioner’s son.
Harrison Deal, son of Commissioner Curt Deal, was killed on Interstate 16 near Pooler Parkway Friday morning. Local sources said he was driving to Pooler to help with a rally for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, for whose campaign he worked. Deal would have been 21 in February.
Pooler police Public Information Officer Lindsey Heintzman said Deal was traveling on the interstate around 10 a.m. Friday when a flatbed truck hauling black plastic tubing struck his vehicle from behind. The impact caused Deal’s vehicle to crash into a third vehicle, she said. Deal’s vehicle caught fire and he died as a result of the crash. Heintzman said the fire “affected the other vehicles” but neither of the other two drivers was seriously injured. Neither autopsy reports nor accident reports were completed Monday, and further information, including the identities of the other drivers involved, was not immediately available.
Heintzman said the investigation “could take weeks, even months, to complete.”
Deal was not only Loeffler’s staffer but also a former intern for Sen. David Perdue and a close family friend of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s family, reportedly dating one of his daughters, according to local sources. Both Loeffler and Kemp canceled scheduled appearances with Vice President Mike Pence in Savanah Friday.
Monday afternoon, Deal’s body was escorted from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Pooler to Deal Funeral Directors in Statesboro. Georgia State Patrol troopers and representatives from several Bulloch County public safety agencies participated in the escort honoring Deal.
In anticipation of the escort’s arrival, cars began parking in a field across from Deal Funeral Directors on Highway 80 East before 3 p.m. Monday, and people began lining both sides of Highway 80 to pay their respects. While members of the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office took their positions to halt traffic when the time arrived, the crowd waited quietly, with some bundling together in blankets to fend off the chilly air.
Around 3:15 p.m., the caravan arrived and people stood at attention, with many of the men removing their hats. Once the vehicles parked at the funeral home, the crowd slowly peeled away and left in their vehicles. One group of young people, who identified themselves as classmates of Harrison Deal, lingered and clung to one another, sharing tears and hugs before forming a prayer circle.
Both Loeffler and Kemp expressed sorrow over Deal’s death via Twitter Friday.
Loeffler described Deal as “a beloved member of our campaign team … (a) smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man.”
The tweet continued: “We will forever cherish and honor Harrison’s memory and I ask every Georgian to join us in prayer for his family during this difficult time.”
Kemp tweeted: “Words cannot express how much Harrison Deal’s life, love and support meant to us. … He was a person of deep faith, unmatched integrity and incredible kindness.” He said Deal was “the Kemp son and brother we never had.”
Visitation for Deal is set for Wednesday from 4–8 p.m. in the Perry Fellowship Hall at Statesboro’s First Baptist Church. Funeral services will be Thursday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church with Dr. John Waters officiating.
The body will lie in state from 1 p.m. until the service is held. Burial will follow at Bulloch Memorial Gardens.
Herald staff photographer Scott Bryant contributed to this report.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.