One man dies in New Year's Day crash
BAINBRIDGE -- The new year got off to a tragic start on Putnam County roadways early Wednesday morning with a fatal one-vehicle accident.
Law enforcement officials were dispatched to the scene on U.S. 36 near County Road 300 East at 4:19 a.m.
Officials from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department and Operation Life advised dispatch that upon their arrival the 2001 Dodge Ram was fully engulfed in flames.
"At the time of my arrival upon exiting my vehicle I heard a loud explosion coming from the fully involved vehicle fire," investigating Deputy Josh Boller said. "I then made contact with three individuals, they advised they witnessed this vehicle's driving behavior prior to the accident. "
Two witnesses advised officials that they were both in the same vehicle driving on State Road 75 prior to the incident.
"A big red truck came flying past us on a double yellow on a hill," the female witness said in her written statement. "The truck was swerving all over the road. We were going 60 (miles per hour), he had to have been going way over that amount."
She then advised officials that upon coming into Big Walnut Creek area, the couple saw the truck overturned in a ditch on fire and promptly pulled over to help.
"My boyfriend went down to try and open the door, but it was locked," the female witness said. "The whole front of the truck was on fire. He threw rocks to break the window."
However, the man was unable to extricate the passenger before the interior was engulfed in flames.
A third witness also saw the vehicle prior to the accident as he was on his way home on U.S. 36.
"I was traveling westbound on U.S. 36 when a red Dodge Ram was flying up behind me about a half mile before Groveland," he told officials. "(He) then went around me swerving all over the road with only his parking lights on and his fog lights on."
The third witness also noted that he was able to watch the vehicle swerve all over the road for about a half-mile before arriving at the scene and calling 911.
"We both tried to get the door open and the other person busted the window of his truck," he added.
Officials determined that the vehicle was westbound on U.S. 36 and entered two lanes of westbound travel. The driver continued in the driving lane into a left gradual corner until it lost control and went into a counter-clockwise spin.
According to the accident report, when the vehicle appeared to lose control, there were black yaw marks leaving the driving lane into the westbound passing lane of travel and across the eastbound lane of travel. From the start of the yaw marks to the edge of the roadway the vehicle traveled approximately 125 feet.
"From the edge of the roadway the vehicle rotated back clockwise and down a hill," Boller stated. "At that time the vehicle struck an embankment head on then flipped on its top, landing on a large storm drain."
Boller also noted that the vehicle traveled approximately 225 feet sideways on a sloped uphill road just prior to the head on embankment collision.
The vehicle, which was towed by S & S Towing, had heavy front-end damage and was severely burnt.
Damage was estimated at $10,001-$25,000.
Due to the nature of the accident, the identity of the victim has not yet been released.
Assisting at the scene were Putnam County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dwight Simmons and Deputy Tyler Turner, Bainbridge Volunteer Fire Department and the Putnam County Coroner's Office.
This story will be updated as more information is obtained.