2 people killed in fiery wreck while fleeing Oconee County deputy

Two people in a sport utility vehicle that authorities said was fleeing an Oconee County deputy died Monday night when the SUV slammed into a tractor-trailer and burst into flames.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, the fatal wreck involving a 2007 Jeep Patriot Sport happened just before 10 p.m at the intersection of Ga. 316 and McNutt Creek Road.

Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said in a statement that 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. “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,” Berry said, adding that the owner of the Jeep was not involved in the incident. “Due to the nature of the crash, identification of the deceased is proving difficult and it may be some time before positive identifications are made.”