Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam said deputy Blake Custer was treated and released from Atlanta Medical Center Sunday night and is back home recovering. Custer was part of a funeral escort on Georgia Highway 3 southbound at about 3:30 p.m., Beam said, when the collision occurred near the Ellis Road bridge.
Custer was airlifted from the scene with a head injury, Beam said. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the accident.
Georgia State Patrol Griffin Post Senior Trooper J.T. McMillan investigated the collision, which he called “a freak accident.”
McMillan said Custer was in the rear car in the funeral escort and the cars in front of him came to a stop.
“We have determined based on independent witnesses, the deputy and other officers, it was a case of sudden acceleration,” he said.
McMillan said the floor mat on Custer’s patrol car was jammed up under the accelerator. The trooper said it may have happened when the deputy re-entered his car after directing traffic for the funeral procession.
He said the interior of the patrol car and the bottom of the mat are both slick.
“It’s not a good idea to have a vinyl mat on a slick surface, unless it can be secured,” he said.
McMillan said Custer swerved to the left to avoid hitting the vehicles stopped in front of him.
“You could tell he slammed on the brakes,” the trooper said. “There were 21 feet of skid marks.”
He said the patrol car rear-ended a Ford Expedition, which hit a GMC Envoy which hit a Suburban.
“The most severe damage was to the patrol car, then the Expedition,” McMillan said. This was due to the height difference between the two vehicles.
He said Custer was injured on the top of his head, and a passenger, an elderly woman in one of the other vehicles, was transported to Spalding Regional Medical Center to be checked out.
“Fortunately no one was hurt seriously,” McMillan said, “It was a low-speed, chain reaction collision, based on the deputy’s statement, no more than 35 miles per hour.”
In an unrelated matter, Beam said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating an incident in which a body was found in a vehicle near the Heads Creek Reservoir off Vaughn School Road, Saturday afternoon.
“It was not a drowning,” Beam said. “We’re waiting on results, but it appears to be self-inflicted.”
Witnesses told The Griffin Daily News that the body of a man was found inside a truck, which was stuck in the mud, Saturday afternoon near the reservoir. Two people riding a four-wheeler on trails near the reservoir reportedly made the discovery.