“Do you know who I am?” a 70-year-old DeKalb County man asked after ramming the back of a car. “I do whatever I want.”
And according to police in two counties, Michael Owen Snider did.
Snider allegedly drove drunk for 15 miles, haphazardly striking more than a dozen cars along the way. Panicked drivers called 911 as Snider continued on, not stopping until he caused a fatal wreck and rammed his own truck into a Gwinnett County restaurant Wednesday night, police said.
Thursday afternoon, investigators were still trying to piece together the string of crashes across two counties. According to DeKalb County police reports obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a victim, Snider wasn’t remorseful after striking the first of many vehicles in his path.
Snider, of Stone Mountain, was driving a Ford F-250 truck when he allegedly caused the hit-and-run wrecks across DeKalb and Gwinnett counties Wednesday evening, Cpl. Ed Ritter with Gwinnett County police said. At his first court appearance Thursday morning, Snider was ordered held without bond until a preliminary hearing scheduled for Feb. 1, Gwinnett sheriff’s Lt. Sean Smith said.
Snider faces a long list of charges, but has no known criminal history, records show.
Adama Keita, of Decatur, was at a red light after exiting I-285 at Covington Highway when his Nissan 350Z was hit from behind around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Keita was the first person Snider allegedly hit, and Keita said Thursday he immediately called police.
“When hit the car, he wanted to leave but the traffic was backed up,” Keita said.
Then, after struggling to get out of his truck and stumbling, Snider offered him money, Keita said. That’s when Snider asked Keita if he knew who he was. Keita didn’t.
Worried that Snider was going to leave the scene of the wreck, Keita said he again called police with a warning.
“If y’all don’t stop him, he’s going to end up killing someone,” Keita said he told a 911 operator.
Later Wednesday night, Keita said he learned that the man who hit him was suspected of several other wrecks, including one that killed a woman.
After causing eight wrecks in DeKalb County, Snider then allegedly caused at least eight more wrecks in Gwinnett before causing a fatal wreck near Snellville around 8:30 p.m., Ritter said.
Snider’s truck rear-ended a car, pushing the car under a flatbed truck at U.S. 78 at Walton Court, near Snellville, Ritter said. A female passenger in the car, 69-year-old Mintiwab Woldeyhans of Loganville, died at the scene of the wreck and the car’s driver, 51-year-old Yeshihareg Abebe of Grayson, was transported to the hospital in critical condition, according to police.
On Thursday, Ritter described Abebe’s injuries as “life-threatening.”
After causing the fatal wreck, Snider hit John Boy’s Home Cooking restaurant, causing moderate damage to the building, Ritter said. Snider was transported to the hospital after complaining of injuries, which were not believed serious, police said. No one inside the restaurant was injured.
Snider was charged with vehicular homicide, DUI, causing serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving and following too closely, jail records show. Additional charges are expected to be filed in DeKalb County.
Dennis Brown told Channel 2 Action News the suspected drunk driver slammed into the back of his Chrysler Pacifica and then followed him.
“He intentionally tried to hit me, so that’s when he chased me, literally he chased me, on the road,” Brown said. “It was like a video game. Really, I couldn’t believe he was trying to do that.”
Keita, the first driver hit, said Thursday night he wishes he could have prevented Snider from causing so much heartbreak and destruction behind the wheel.
“I wish I could’ve done more,” Keita said.
— Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.
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