Crime

Columbus teen was among 13 traffic deaths in Ga. during Labor Day weekend

Justin Patrick “JP” Johanson
Justin Patrick “JP” Johanson

At least 18 people died on Georgia and Alabama roadways during the Labor Day weekend, including a Columbus teen who was struck while lying in the road near Bradley Park Drive, authorities said.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety said 13 people died in Georgia and five died on highways in Alabama between 6 p.m. Friday and midnight Monday.

Justin “JP” Johanson, 15, was pronounced dead at the scene of a 3:30 a.m. Sunday crash on River Road near the intersection at Bradley Park Drive. A 33-year-old woman was traveling south on River Road when her 2011 Kia Optima struck an unknown object in the roadway but it was later identified as the teen. Justin was a sophomore at Northside High School in Columbus.

The Georgia State Patrol investigated eight fatal crashes while Columbus police and other local authorities were called to five fatalities. At least three were in Dalton, Floyd County and Rome and two others were in Gainesville and Toccoa. At least two fatal crashes were investigated in Atlanta and the Brunswick and Savannah-Chatham police departments.

Other areas with one fatality include Sylvania, Albany and Tifton, authorities said. Across the state, troopers made 297 arrests for DUI and issued about 8,200 citations.

The death toll exceeded the nine Georgia fatalities investigated in 2015.

In Alabama, none of the deaths were investigated in the East Alabama region. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said the fatal crashes were in Autauga, Calhoun, Houston, Madison and Talledega Counties.

Troopers identified four of the five people killed as drivers in the crashes. The vehicles were equipped with seat belts but only one was buckled during the wreck. The fifth person to die on the roadways was a pedestrian.

During the four-day holiday weekend, Saturday was the only day with no fatalities across the state of Alabama, troopers said.

Compared to 2015 with 10 traffic deaths, the state experienced a 50-percent drop in deaths this year.

The deadly crashes remain under investigation by the state troopers.

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