17 killed in Christmas weekend wrecks across Georgia

A 27-day-old child who died in a Christmas Day wreck near Calhoun was among 17 people killed in holiday weekend crashes across the state, the Georgia State Patrol reported Wednesday.

The State Patrol investigated 685 wrecks that injured another 300 people during the 102-hour Christmas period, which began at 6 p.m. on Friday and ended at midnight Tuesday.

Six of the fatalities were in metro Atlanta, and were investigated by College Park, Smyrna, Cobb County and Gwinnett County police and by the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.

The remaining deadly wrecks were investigated by the State Patrol, including one crash in northwest Georgia worked by the troopers from the Patrol’s Calhoun post that left three people dead.

The dense fog that blanketed metro Atlanta on Christmas Eve was a contributing factor in a fatal wreck Monday night in Cobb County.

According to Cobb police, a 1994 Toyota Camry that was northbound on Smyrna Powder Springs Road veered into the southbound lane and collided with a 1999 Toyota Camry.

A passenger in the 1999 Camry, 46-year-old Luca Kosic of Marietta, died at the scene. Several other people in that vehicle, as well as the driver of the 1994 Camry, were taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Weather was also listed as a contributing factor in a fatal single-vehicle wreck in Gwinnett County on Christmas afternoon.

According to Gwinnett police, a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Nenad Lunic, 23, of Duluth ran off Simpson Circle near Centennial Trail about 4:15 and struck a tree. Lunic, who was alone in the vehicle, was killed, police said.

Charges are pending against a driver involved in a Christmas Day wreck in Gordon County that killed three people and injured four others.

State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said a 1996 Ford Bronco driven by Brent Leighton Lynch, 35, of Calhoun was eastbound on Ga. 53 when the vehicle ran off the right side of the road, then re-entered the road and struck a 2006 Kia Spectra head-on.

Killed in the wreck were the Kia driver, 40-year-old April Winters of Cartersville, and two passengers in her vehicle, Taneka Ackies, 21, of Cartersville, and Niyla Ackies, a 27-day-old infant also from Cartersville.

Two other passengers in the Kia, as well as Lynch and a passenger in his vehicle, were injured and taken to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga for treatment.

Wright said Lynch has been charged with three counts of first degree vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, driving on the wrong side of the road and failure to maintain lane.

This year’s toll is the highest number of Christmas weekend deaths since 2008 – the last year that there was a 102-hour counting period. That year, 24 people died on Georgia roads, according to the State Patrol.

With Christmas falling on a weekend day or a Monday the past three years, the holiday travel period was 78 hours long. Three people died over that period in 2010 and in 2011, while 11 people were killed in wrecks over the 2009 Christmas travel period.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.