Two now dead as man aboard scooter struck by vehicle on Macon Road dies at hospital

The second of two people who were aboard a motor scooter struck from behind by a small sport-utility vehicle on Macon Road, or U.S. 80, has succumbed to his injuries at a Columbus hospital.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan confirmed Sunday that Jeremy Blankenship, 30, was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. Sunday at Piedmont Columbus Regional’s midtown campus.

Blankenship’s death follows that Saturday of Toni McChargue, 33, who also was on the scooter that was smashed from behind by a Jeep Renegade compact SUV in the Upatoi area — on Macon Road just past the Jenkins Road intersection — at 2:14 p.m. Saturday. She was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley.

Bryan said Columbus police investigators still are not sure if McChargue or Blankenship was driving the scooter.

The collision occurred in the eastbound lane of the four-lane roadway. It happened in a 65 mph zone just past turning lanes in the highway that connects Columbus and Macon, Ga. Blankenship was transported by ambulance to the Columbus hospital. The driver of the vehicle that struck them was not injured, Bryan said.

The speed that scooters can reach depend on the size of their engines, according to MotorScooterShopper.com. A smaller 50cc engine can reach speeds up to 40 mph, while one that is 150cc can travel 50 mph to 60 mph, according to the site, which notes that the weight of those riding can slow those speeds considerably. A more powerful scooter with a 250cc engine can top 75 mph, the site said.

Bryan said Sunday that McChargue and Blankenship were dating and staying at Colony Inn on Victory Drive. He talked with Blankenship’s mother in Atlanta, who said that his brother lives in the Midland area of Columbus.

The body of McChargue is being sent to the GBI lab in Atlanta for an autopsy, Bryan said, while Blankenship’s body will not be taken there. The GBI decided that an autopsy at its lab is not necessary since the male rider’s injuries already have been documented at Piedmont Columbus Regional hospital.