A witness helped bring an alleged drunken driver to justice on Sunday night, the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Toney Smith, 60, was reportedly driving drunk when he hit and killed motorcyclist Jose Santiago-Maldonado, 30. Smith then allegedly drove off, but a witness to the crash followed Smith until officers caught up with him and made an arrest.
The crash happened at Moreland Avenue and South River Industrial Drive in DeKalb County, according to authorities. Smith, driving a Camaro, was headed north on Moreland when he allegedly drifted into oncoming traffic, hitting and killing Santiago-Maldonado on his motorcycle.
L.C. Wheat, who was sitting at a traffic light, witnessed the whole thing. "I'm looking at him like, wow, he don't see this bike, and before I knew it, the bike was in the air," Wheat told Channel 2 Action News.
When the Camaro sped off, Wheat followed. "I took it to heart," he told Channel 2. "You can't hit a guy on a motorcycle and leave him in the middle of the street and keep going. That's foul play. That's no good."
Wheat caught up to the Camaro and called 911. After several miles, police caught up with Smith and pulled him over. Smith reportedly tried to shirk responsibility for the accident. "He was basically saying it wasn't him, but it was him," Wheat said.
Toney Smith was charged with DUI, failure to stop, driving on a suspended license, and making an improper left turn. Under Georgia law, a driver must stop if he's involved in any accident that causes property damage or injury. If the accident causes death or serious injury, it's a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison.
Smith will probably be charged with vehicular homicide as well, once his toxicology results are in. You can get a vehicular homicide charge for killing someone while driving drunk, or for leaving the scene of an accident in which someone was killed. If Smith is convicted of vehicular homicide, he could spend up to 15 years in prison.
- Contact an Atlanta DUI Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Police: Witness Followed Driver in Fatal Hit-and-Run with Motorcycle (Channel 2 Action News)
- DUI Arrests (FindLaw)
- Cops: Wrong-Way Driver Was on Powerful Sedative (FindLaw's Atlanta DUI Law Blog)