Driver arrested, accused of hitting construction workers in Marietta while drunk

A man accused of hitting two construction workers while driving drunk in Marietta and then leaving the scene has been arrested, police said Wednesday.

Malik Richard Branch, 23, of Dallas, is accused of hitting the workers early Sunday morning as they were preparing for a lane closure under an I-75 overpass, according to Marietta police. Branch got out of the car he was driving but left it behind and ran away, police said.

Investigators later identified him as the alleged hit-and-run driver with the help of evidence left at the scene and video surveillance footage from a nearby lounge, police said.

“While in the parking lot of Marietta Sage Lounge, said accused was observed on video surveillance stumbling and almost falling in the parking lot with a beer bottle in his hand,” Branch’s arrest warrant states. “Said accused later entered the driver side of the vehicle into the driver seat and drove out of the parking lot ... and traveled eastbound on Roswell Street toward Cobb Parkway before causing an accident in the area of 1200 Roswell Road.”

Explore2 construction workers hit under Marietta overpass; driver runs away

Branch was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts each of serious injury by vehicle and hit-and-run, along with DUI, failure to maintain lane, driving on a suspended license, driving on suspended registration, not having insurance, no seatbelt, and improper equipment, police said.

The two workers, both employed by Southeast Bridge Florida Corporation, had gotten out of their vehicle to set up a traffic directional board for a lane closure on Roswell Road when they were hit around 1:45 a.m., according to police.

One of the workers, Jimmy Varraza, remained in critical condition Wednesday at Grady Memorial Hospital, police said. The second man, Oscar Aguilar, was released from the hospital and is recovering.

A gray 2019 Volkswagen Jetta was traveling east and failed to yield to the lane closure and struck both the message board and the workers, according to authorities. The Jetta didn’t belong to Branch, but to one of his friends, police said.

The front two tires on the Jetta were bald, the arrest warrant states, and the rear two had been over-inflated to 70 PSI — more than twice the normal pressure.

Branch was being held without bond Wednesday at the Cobb County jail.

In Paulding County, his criminal history dates to 2017, when he was stopped for speeding and later pleaded guilty, court records show. In March 2022, Branch pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and obstruction charges and was sentenced to 12 months on probation and given credit for serving 22 days behind bars, according to court records. In July, he violated the terms of his probation when he was arrested for DUI, speeding, failure to maintain lane and failure to signal, records show. That case is still pending.