We have seen a great tragedy in Atlanta today. Early this morning, an Atlanta
police officer, Gail Thomas, 46, was killed when she stopped to help out
a fellow officer who was working a wreck at the interchange ramp from
I-75 southbound to I-85 northbound. Thomas had Thomas had just come on
duty, when she stopped to help her fellow officer. She was exiting her
patrol car when a 22-year-old woman hit and killed her. Thomas had been
working for the Atlanta police department for 20 years, and it would be
an understatement to say that the department was devastated by her loss
in this tragic Atlanta car accident.
Chastity Nicole Jones, the woman who hit Thomas, was just 22 years old.
Jones tested at .16 (twice the legal limit) on a blood alcohol breathalyzer
test done at the scene of the car crash.
One of the silver linings for this tragic situation is that Jones stopped
immediately after the accident: she did not try to flee the scene of the
accident. In earlier posts, I have talked about how incredibly painful
hit and run accidents are for the victims, and also how devastating they
are legally for the person who caused the accident.
Ms. Jones had legal problems aplenty, without adding a hit and run charge
to them. She was charged with numerous violations, included
driving under the influence (“DUI”), first-degree homicide by vehicle, and reckless driving.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also known as the AJC, said it all: “In an instant, two families
were changed forever..”
The Atlanta police department was devastated by the news about Thomas,
who by all accounts was a cheerful, kind person. Her daughter, a 22-year-old
named Jasmine Thomas, was at school at Georgia Southern when the police
department had to deliver the tragic news to her.
Gail Thomas was an all-American story. She started as a 911 dispatcher
in the department, and Atlanta police chief George Turner talked her into
becoming an officer.
Thomas is only the second Atlanta female police officers to be killed in
the line of duty, which is clearly a blessing to those of us here in Atlanta.
As an Atlanta, Georgia car accident lawyer, I see so many personal injury
tragedies, but this death is as sad as it comes. A police officer, dedicated
to keeping all of us safe, and a kind woman and wonderful mother to boot,
is killed by a very young woman, only 22 and really just at the outset
of her life journey
Under Georgia law, a person “shall not drive or be in actual physical
control of any moving vehicle” while the person’s “alcohol
concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after
such driving or being in actual physical control from alcohol consumed
before such driving or being in actual physical control ended.”
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.
Ms. Jones reported tested at twice the legal limit in Georgia.
What a tragedy, for all of us here in Georgia. This car wreck devastated
our police department, because the officers lost a friend and colleague.
It impacted Ms. Jones’ family, and all of us here in Atlanta, as
well. Our prayers go out to all of the people who were involved, and especially
to Ms. Thomas’ family and to her daughter.