Family members of a combat medic who died after an early Monday traffic wreck have released a statement about the death.
Sgt. Jerome C. Owens, 39, of Valdosta, Ga., died early Monday in a traffic wreck at Macon Road and University Boulevard. Jack L. Hughes, 17, of Columbus faces charges including first-degree vehicular homicide in connection with the death.
“We wish to express our thanks for the many expressions of condolence and support we have received since the loss of our Soldier on June 27. This is a difficult time for us. As we prepare for the memorial service of our beloved son, husband, father and friend, we ask that our privacy be respected.
"Jerome will be missed by all who knew him, and he will not be forgotten," the family said.
Hughes was arrested Monday after the wreck. He paid bonds that day totaling $15,900 on charges of first-degree vehicular homicide, possession of Ecstasy and Clonazepam, DUI, a red light violation and an accusation of drugs not in original container, Muscogee County Jail records state.
Owens died after a 1998 Ford F-150 going east on Macon collided with the soldier’s 2002 Nissan Altima as it made a left-hand turn from Elm Street around 5:15 a.m. Monday, Lt. Mark D. Starling said.
“Good soldier. Terrible tragedy,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Kennedy, Owens’ commander in Iraq, when he learned of the death.
Owens was pronounced dead at The Medical Center at 6:26 a.m., Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley said.
Hughes had a Columbus Recorder’s Court hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, though it was canceled because he made bond. One of Hughes’ supporters who went to Recorder’s Court declined comment.
Owens has been on active duty with the Army for almost a decade. Assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, he came to Fort Benning in July 2009 and has been deployed once to Bosnia and twice to Iraq, said Elsie Jackson, public information officer.
Owens had received an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Korean Defense Service Medal and a Presidential Citation (Army and Air Force), Jackson said.