The driver of a van carrying disabled adults didn’t appear to apply her brakes before slamming into the back of an 18-wheeler, killing herself and a passenger, according to a report released Tuesday by the Georgia State Patrol.
“The investigating trooper was unable to locate any tire marks on the roadway from Vehicle 1 to indicated braking prior to impact,” the report states.
According to a witness and investigators, Jerome David was stopped and had the turn signal on when the rear of his tractor-trailer was struck by a Ford Transit van on July 15 in Union City.
The van’s driver, 33-year-old Aquilla Walker of Riverdale, and passenger Cyprian Sanders, 25, of Atlanta, died at the scene, the State Patrol said. Seven others were injured. Investigators believe Walker was following too closely to the tractor-trailer.
“It sounded like a bomb went off when she hit me,” David told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two days after the crash. “I felt it hit so hard, it threw me forward.”
A witness told troopers Walker appeared to speed up before striking the tractor-trailer. Investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.
Walker was a staff member with InCommunity, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta that supports adults with developmental disabilities and their families. She was taking a group of program participants home from the organization’s day center off Buffington Road. Sanders was a program participant.
It was a daily trip for Walker, who worked as a direct care provider helping with the activities of daily living and transportation to and from the center. Her passengers, all of whom are either intellectually or physically disabled, were on their way back home to their families or to group homes.
The funeral for Walker will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Liberty Baptist Church in Atlanta, according to her online obituary. She is survived by a son, mother, brother and several other relatives.
Visitation for Sanders will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Friday at Gus Thornhill’s Funeral Home in East Point. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Center Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta.
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