Johnny Todd Carruthers
Photo: Clarke County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Clarke County Sheriff's Office

Athens man charged with vehicular homicide — but he didn’t hit anyone

An Athens man faces DUI and vehicular homicide charges after he wrecked his car, but he’s not accused of killing anyone directly, according to police.

After a single-vehicle wreck, the passenger in the man’s car got out, only to be hit and killed by a passing vehicle, Athens police said.

As a result, Johnny Todd Carruthers, 29, was arrested Saturday just after 2:45 a.m.

Carruthers, who was driving southbound on U.S. 29, crashed a 2002 Acura when he was turning onto the off-ramp to the Athens Perimeter, according to a police incident report obtained by AJC.com. He told police he swerved to avoid a deer and his car left the roadway, ending up on an embankment.

When the car stopped, 37-year-old Johnrico Deon Smith got out and walked into the roadway, where he was hit by a 2014 Dodge Charger, the report said. The vehicle was driven by a 30-year-old Athens woman, who told police she did not see the pedestrian. She was not charged.

Smith was killed and Carruthers’ head was injured from apparently hitting it against a windshield, police said.

Police determined that neither Carruthers nor Smith were wearing their seat belts, and a Coors beer can was found next to the driver’s door. Carruthers also was driving between 73 and 76 mph when he turned onto the bypass ramp, investigators said.

On Monday, police arrested Carruthers on a count of first-degree vehicular homicide, which is a felony. He was also cited for DUI, failure to maintain lane, speeding, not wearing a seat belt and open container, Clarke County jail records show. He’s being held without bond.

It appears he’s being charged under subsection A of Georgia Code § 40-6-393, which states that someone who “causes the death of another person” while committing other offenses, including a DUI, are guilty of first-degree vehicular homicide.

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