Norcross man charged in Marietta hit-run says he had seizure

Marietta police filed multiple charges Tuesday against a 24-year-old Norcross man who they say crashed while fleeing an accident scene, but the motorist contends he had a seizure and can’t remember what happened.

“The last thing I remember was crossing over the I-75 bridge” and heading east on South Marietta Parkway on his way to an appointment to have a wisdom tooth pulled, Garrett Hamlin told the AJC in a telephone interview from his home.

“The next thing I know, I’m in the emergency room” at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Hamlin said.

Police said a white Ford F-250 driven by Hamlin was heading east on South Marietta about noon Monday when it struck a black Ford F-250 also eastbound on the same street.

Hamlin’s truck continued eastward and crossed the grass center median into the westbound lanes, where it collided with a blue 2005 Dodge Caravan and a gold 2001 Mitsubishi Galant before veering off the road and hitting a tree, police said.

Tuesday afternoon, Marietta police said they had secured an arrest warrant for Hamlin, charging him with hit-and-run, two counts of failure to maintain his lane, driving too fast for conditions and driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $20,000.

Police said Hamlin had been released from the hospital before their investigation was completed, but said he was aware of the charges and was making plans to turn himself in. In the phone interview, Hamlin said he planned to surrender Wednesday.

Police said Hamlin was fleeing from an accident when he crashed, but the driver said he has a medical history of epilepsy and believes he had a grand mal seizure at the time of the crash. He described the resulting injuries as “a couple of bruised ribs, bruised orbital under my left eye,” and said he’s home taking medication for the pain.

“I know I had a seizure because I’m not the kind of guy who’d run from an accident,” Hamlin said. “The truck had insurance on it and everything else. I had no reason to run.”

Hamlin said he had petit mal seizures when he was in high school, about 10 years ago. He was put on medication for them but stopped taking the medicine after the seizures ended. He said he had a grand mal seizure three years ago as a result of dehydration.

The latest incident, he said, “just came out of nowhere. I had a seizure and almost hurt a lot of people. … It’s never been to the point that it’s caused anybody harm until now.”

“I have my mother sending my MRIs taken of me while I was in high school so I can take them into court,” Hamlin said. He said he also is contacting a former employer who can tell the court he missed work because of a seizure three years ago.

As for prior charges out of Gwinnett County for driving with a suspended license and driving with expired tags, and for having been jailed for failing to appear in court, Hamlin said the problems stemmed from a traffic stop in Norcross last year.

“I was driving a Nissan Sentra and was pulled over driving home from work, and I had an expired tag,” he said. "All these suspensions I ever had all stemmed off an expired tag ticket two years ago when I moved back here from Buffalo. ... It’s all been paid for. I haven’t had a moving violation in five years, not a speeding ticket or anything like that. It’s all been paperwork issues.”