While a Middle Georgia woman walked her dog Sunday night, a vehicle driving on a nearby overhead bridge somehow lost its tire.
That tire traveled at least 300 yards, striking the woman in the head and killing her in what’s being called a freak accident, Houston County authorities said.
However, that accident has led to the driver’s arrest since authorities believe he saw what happened and didn’t report it.
Brian Seth Carmichael, 25, of Fort Valley, has been charged with failing to report an accident with injury or death, Houston County sheriff’s Lt. Kent Bankston told AJC.com. The incident killed Kimberly Touchton, 22, of Byron.
About 9 p.m., she left her home in a trailer park to walk her dog, Bankston said. Her family told deputies those walks usually lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, so they began to get worried when she didn’t come home.
About 45 minutes later, her dog returned without Touchton, leading her family to search the trailer park. Her fiance found her lying face-down shortly after and called 911. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“It snapped her neck,” Bankston said. “She probably didn’t even know what hit her, I think.”
The area was not well-lit or surrounded by any nearby trailers, he added. The trailer park is in a deep ravine near Ga. 49 and Highway 11, where the road is at a higher elevation than the trailer park. At an even higher elevation is Houston Road, which is a bridge where the tire flew from, according to Bankston.
“It came off right there and traveled probably 300 yards or more before it actually struck her,” he said. “The crime scene is easily 400 to 450 yards long.”
Deputies found Carmichael after spotting an unattended vehicle near the scene that happened to be missing a tire. Bankston said an anonymous tipster said Carmichael had called someone to pick him up after the incident.
“While (deputies) were out there, they ran across this vehicle that was probably a quarter of a mile down the road near the Bibb-Houston county line,” Bankston said. “It was missing the whole wheel assembly and tire. It was gone. That alerted our suspicion.”
Bankston said investigators have “reason to believe” that Carmichael saw the injured woman after the incident. He added that investigators are inspecting the man’s vehicle, and the results could lead to additional charges.
Carmichael was booked into the county’s jail, where he was granted a $2,600 bond, online jail records show.
This isn’t the first time this year where a tire fell off a vehicle, hitting and killing someone in Georgia.
In August, a Jones County woman was hit and killed after a tire fell off an 18-wheeler on I-75 in Peach County, AJC.com previously reported. Two tires fell off the vehicle, with one of them bouncing over the interstate’s median and into the woman’s vehicle, which was traveling in the other direction.
The driver in that case was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, driving on defective tires and unsafe vehicle or equipment.
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