The police investigation into the string of hit-and-run accidents that left one person dead and another critically injured Wednesday will focus on Michael Owen Snider’s intent: Did the 70-year-old Stone Mountain man intend to hurt people, or was he simply drunk and out of control when he rammed more than 20 vehicles over a 15-miles stretch?
“If there was intent to harm people, the charges could be upgraded” from vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle, Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith said. “You could almost call it a homicide or aggravated assault investigation at this point.”
Gwinnett Police released dozens of pages of investigative reports Friday afternoon. An investigator noted in one report that Snider’s son had said, when told of the incident, that his father probably had come from a bar in DeKalb County. The investigator wrote he had not told the younger Snider that his father was suspected of drunk driving.
The son “stated that the bar continuously over-serves his father and (the son) has warned them to stop doing that,” the report says. The report does not name the bar.
Snider gave police a statement while in custody, but a police spokesman said he was not aware of what was said.
Police also do not yet know what Snider’s blood-alcohol content, because they are waiting on lab results of a blood sample. Snider also has been charged with DUI, reckless driving and following too closely. More charges are pending, the police reports say.
The rampage started in DeKalb, where Snider allegedly caused four accidents. Adam Keita, the driver of the first vehicle struck, told police that Snider approached him afterward and said: “Do you know who I am? I do whatever I want.” Snider then drove away while Keita called 911.
The carnage was worse in Gwinnett County, where police said Snider caused 10 accidents along U.S. 78. Snider stopped only when his 2006 F-250 Super Duty pickup truck crashed into Johnboy’s Home Cooking restaurant in unincorporated Snellville, moments after he smashed into the rear end of a vehicle and propelled it underneath a tractor trailer.
Killed was 73-year-old Mintiwab Woldeyhans. Her daughter, 51-year-old Yeshihareg Abebe, also was injured and is still in critical condition at Emory Eastside Hospital, according to a police spokesman.
Snider lives in Stone Mountain’s Hidden Hills subdivision, which is populated by single-family homes.
Two neighbors interviewed Friday said they did not know Snider — one said she never saw him and the other said he has never talked to him during his 10 years in the neighborhood.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.