A 55-year-old man died and seven people were hurt Saturday after a five-vehicle wreck at Buena Vista and Floyd roads, Columbus police said.
Jacob J. Keller, 20, was charged Sunday with vehicular homicide, DUI, reckless conduct and following too close in connection with the death of Willie Lawrence, officials said. Lawrence, 55, was a passenger in an Oldsmobile Cutlass that was stopped and waiting to turn left onto Floyd from Buena Vista when Keller struck his vehicle from behind, Columbus Police Lt. James Walton said.
Taken to The Medical Center after the crash, Keller was released the following day. He was then booked into the Muscogee County Jail. He’s being held without bond pending his Tuesday Columbus Recorder’s Court hearing, authorities said.
According to police, Keller was speeding and swerving through traffic about 6:45 p.m. as he drove his 2006 black Ford Explorer east on Buena Vista. At one point, Keller drove into oncoming traffic before swerving back into the eastbound lane and colliding with the 1994 maroon Oldsmobile Cutlass Lawrence was in.
The collision pushed the Cutlass into oncoming traffic. It was then struck by a 2010 white Toyota Tundra going west on Buena Vista, reports state.
Keller’s Explorer kept going east, moving from the turn lane to the inside lane of Buena Vista, after colliding with the Oldsmobile. He then struck the rear of a 2001 white Ford F150. The Explorer then fish-tailed and collided with a 2007 blue Dodge Magnum that was in the outside lane on Buena Vista, reports show.
Ronnie Foster, who was driving the F150, said he didn’t see the vehicle strike him from behind.
“I had just crossed the light at the intersection,” said the 51-year-old Foster, who went to Martin Army Community Hospital after the wreck. “I went through the light and I get hit in the back.”
All five vehicles involved in the crash came to a stop. Firefighters arrived, and they pulled Lawrence from the Cutlass and began CPR. A defibrillator was used on Lawrence before he was put in an ambulance and taken from the scene, Foster said.
Lawrence was pronounced dead at 9:40 p.m. Saturday at The Medical Center, reports state.
Everyone except a passenger in the Dodge Magnum went to a hospital, reports state. All were released by Sunday, hospital officials said.
“It’s a tragedy, you know,” Foster said. “I just feel for the family.”