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Driver jailed in Cobb crossing guard’s death

A driver accused of hitting and killing a crossing guard near a Cobb County school is in jail.

Lamonte Whitaker, 38, of Lithonia, faces reckless driving and vehicular homicide charges in connection with the death of Edna Umeh, according to Cobb County police.

Lamonte Whitaker surrendered Thursday, police said. (Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office)

Umeh, 64, of Austell, was directing traffic outside Lindley Middle School on Veterans Memorial Highway at the time of the deadly crash, which occurred about 9 a.m. Nov. 30. 

RELATED: School crossing guard hit, killed in front of students in Cobb; driver ID’d

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Students arriving at school saw the accident and its aftermath, district spokesman John Stafford said.

Sakinah Anderson witnessed the fatal accident involving a crossing guard at Lindsey Middle School in Cobb County. Video by John Spink/AJC

According to police and a witness, Whitaker’s 2016 Ford Focus swerved into the center turn lane and around slowing or stopped traffic. The car continued westbound on Veterans Memorial Highway.

“The lady’s like, ‘Stop! Stop,’” witness Sakinah Anderson said. “Once she noticed that he wasn’t stopping, she tried to turn around a little bit and he hit her. She was flipping up to the power lines and hit the ground.” 

Umeh died on the scene, police said. 

Fire crews that responded to the accident had to cut off the top of the car to free Whitaker, who was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

It is not clear when he was released from Grady, but police Sgt. Dana Pierce said Whitaker surrendered at precinct No. 1 in northwest Cobb Thursday afternoon. He was taken to the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. Details about his first court appearance were not immediately available.

Umeh’s death sparked calls to address what many consider a dangerous stretch of Veterans Memorial Highway.

Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the district, said she reached out to the county’s transportation department to see what steps could be taken to make the highway safer.

“This is a high speed corridor with few traffic lights that needs to be addressed immediately,” Cupid said. 

RELATED: Cobb crossing guard’s death sparks calls to address ‘dangerous’ road

MORE: Family of Cobb crossing guard: ‘Whatever it takes’ to improve safety

Gov. Nathan Deal ordered flags in Cobb to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Umeh.

RELATED: Gov. Deal orders Cobb flags lowered in honor of crossing guard

“Ms. Umeh proudly served the citizens of Cobb County and gave her life while ensuring the safe passage of students walking to school,” the executive order said.

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— Staff writer Steve Burns contributed to this article.

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