Lawyer: Driver in lethal crash was sleepy, not medicated

A man whose driving led to the death of another man on I-85 Thursday may have nodded off behind the wheel but he wasn't impaired by prescription medication, his lawyer said Saturday.

Paul Beaube Burgess, 28, of Marion Junction, Ala., was in jail without bond in Coweta County Saturday two days after the crash that killed Donald Clyatt Moore, 51, of Newnan.

Moore's van had a flat tire and he was standing between it and a concrete barrier in the middle median of the southbound lanes when police said a Nissan Rouge smashed into the van and pushed it into him. A Georgia State Patrolman who was helping to repair the tire suffered abrasions and was rushed to Atlanta Medical Center, with fellow troopers blocking Freedom Parkway when the ambulance passed.

"He was skinned up pretty bad," Lt. Paul Cosper of the Georgia State Patrol said of Trooper Brandon Kight. He survived, but Moore, who was flown by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center, died there Friday afternoon. Nissan driver Marcia Saurman, 59 of San Jose, Calif. suffered only minor injury.

Burgess was driving behind the Nissan and collided with it, sending it into the van, Cosper said. Burgess was charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, serious injury by vehicle and following too closely, and Cosper said after Moore's death that more charges could be coming.

Burgess' lawyer, D. Scott Cummins, of Newnan, said Saturday that his client would likely be charged with vehicular homicide. It would be worse for Burgess if lab tests being conducted on his blood indicate he was impaired by his medication. He would face a felony homicide charge rather than a misdemeanor charge, Cummins said, and a far stiffer sentence if convicted.

"Either way, he can get prison time. It's a sad situation; there's no winner here," Cummins said.

Burgess is a general manager with a Fortune 500 company that deals in scrap iron and had just left a company meeting in Atlanta before the 5:15 p.m. crash, Cummins said. The lawyer said people who attended the meeting and saw Burgess climb into his truck afterward told him Burgess was not impaired. Cummins said his client takes Adderall for a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Cummins said Burgess caused the crash but was not under the influence of anything.

"He and his parents are just as distraught as they can be over what happened to Mr. Moore and Trooper Kight," Cummins said. "It was a serious accident, but it wasn't a DUI."

Cummins said the actual cause of the crash was likely fatigue. He said Burgess "may have, just for a second, nodded off."