City truck driver, 72, charged in fatal crash Jan. 31 on River Road, police say

A truck driver for the Columbus Consolidated Government has been charged in the fatal Jan. 31 crash on River Road that left a Fortson man dead, police said Friday.

Lewis Triester, 72, of Columbus was taken into custody about 9:30 a.m. at the Public Safety Center, said Police Lt. Lance Deaton. He is charged with one count each of failing to yield and misdemeanor homicide by vehicle second degree in the death of James Gibson of Fortson. Triester is held in the Muscogee County Jail for an initial hearing at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Gibson, 63, of Fortson died of blunt force trauma in the emergency room of Piedmont Columbus Regional’s midtown campus at 9:31 a.m., Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Charles Newton said.

Police said Gibson was eastbound on River Road approaching Willett Drive as Triester steered a 2005 Chevrolet C8500 truck from the driveway at 7501 River Road about 8:25 a.m. to travel westbound. The front of Gibson’s 1999 CLK 430 Mercedes Benz collided with the center of the truck’s left side.

The city driver told police that both directions on the roadway were clear and no vehicles were approaching when he suddenly saw the Mercedes Benz after entering the roadway.

Deaton said police have done tests in connection with the crash but he didn’t release the results.

The driver of the city truck was wearing a seat belt but Gibson wasn’t strapped in his car.

The posted speed limit in the area is 55 mph on the three-lane road.

Triester, a driver for the Public Works Department, has more than four years with the city after he was hired on Jan. 26, 2015. He was suspended without pay on Friday from the job that paid $31,990.40 annually, a human resources official said.

Gibson was the owner of four FoneMart locations in the surrounding area. He studied at Columbus State University after attending Carver High School.