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- “The investigation is complete,” GSP spokeswoman Tracey Watson said.
Without explanation, the Georgia State Patrol on Tuesday cleared a sheriff’s deputy who ran a stop sign and caused a fiery crash in Hall County.
“No charges will be filed,” the GSP said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Traffic citations are written at the discretion of the trooper.”
About 7:50 a.m. Monday, Whitfield County sheriff’s Deputy Rosalia Pacheco-Hernandez was driving eastbound on Ga. 52 with inmates Amanda Nicole Townsend, 33, of Tunnel Hill, and Hillary Marie Mchan, 30, of Dalton. Pacheco-Hernandez, 23, was taking Townsend and Mchan to Arrendale Prison in Alto, the GSP said.
Steven and Renee Gallo, both 57, of Lakeworth, Fla., were traveling north on Ga. 284 in a Dodge pickup truck that was pulling a toy hauler camper. The eastbound patrol car “failed to stop at a stop sign and struck the toy hauler camper that the Dodge was pulling,” the GSP said shortly after the crash.
The camper disconnected from the Dodge and overturned on its right side, the GSP said. The patrol car caught fire after the collision.
According to a crash report, Pacheco-Hernandez admitted not seeing the stop sign and told investigators she wasn’t familiar with the area.
A witness also told the GSP he was following behind the camper and noticed Pacheco-Hernandez was not stopping and eventually ran the stop sign. The witness also said the deputy pressed on the brakes before the car crashed into the camper.
Steven Gallo told Channel 2 Action News that officials scrambled to get the shackled inmates out of the burning patrol car.
“There was just a rush to get everybody away,” Gallo said.
Pacheco-Hernandez, Townsend and Mchan were taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.