Victim in fiery Oconee County wreck identified

Days after a sport utility vehicle sped away from an Oconee County deputy, slammed into a tractor-trailer and burst into flames, officials on Friday identified one of two people killed in the fiery wreck.

Jessica Cannon, 20, of Braselton, was the passenger in the 2007 Jeep Patriot Sport involved in the fatal crash, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said in a statement posted on the agency's Facebook page.

Just before 10 p.m. Monday, a deputy working a security detail was parked in a nearby subdivision when the Jeep approached, made “a sudden evasive move,” and quickly fled the area.

He said the deputy followed, but lost sight of the Jeep.

The deputy later located the vehicle, its headlights off.

“The vehicle went through the yard of a residence and was headed directly toward the deputy, who was able to avoid a collision by throwing his vehicle into reverse,” Berry said earlier this week. “At that point, the deputy was able to get a tag number, and he activated his emergency equipment.”

The Jeep’s driver sped up and failed to stop at a stop sign on McNutt Creek Road at Ga. 316, where it crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer. The SUV went under the trailer and got caught by the rear tandem axles, the sheriff said.

“The vehicle was dragged for several hundred feet before bursting into flames,” Berry said.

Berry said the truck was hauling large spools of paper, which had to be offloaded before the trailer could be removed from the top of the Jeep and the bodies of the SUV’s driver and passenger.

The eastbound lanes of Ga. 316 were shut down for about six hours, and reopened about 4 a.m.

It is unknown who was driving the suspect vehicle, said Berry, who added the owner of the Jeep was not involved in the incident.

“The driver has not been positively identified as of now,” Berry said Friday. “This is a priority for the Crime Lab and the[y] will let us know as soon as they have completed their work.”