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As a Georgia lawyer who handles lawsuits about car wreck and tractor-trailer
accidents, I see tragic wreck cases all too often. But I was especially
sad to read about a tractor-trailer truck wreck that happened in Bartow
County right before Christmas.

According to a press release from the
Georgia State Patrol, on December 19th the State Patrol was called to a wreck involving two
tractor trailers. The Georgia State Patrol got the call about the accident
at 1:50 a.m. on Wednesday morning. When the troopers arrived on the scene,
they found two wrecked trucks and three people who had been killed in
the wreck. – the drivers of both of the trucks as well as a passenger
that had been riding in one of the tractor trailers.

Both trucks had been traveling along I-75 as it crosses through Bartow
County, one headed southbound and the other headed northbound. Although
the two big rigs never actually collided with one another, the State Patrol
believes that the northbound tractor trailer caused the southbound one to wreck.

The first tractor trailer was being driven on the northbound side of I-75
by a local Georgia man, George Benjamin White of Hiram, Georgia. White,
age 43, had a passenger, Jermaine Duriel Smith, age 36, who was from Douglasville,
also in Georgia. White’s tractor-trailer left the road and went
onto the left shoulder. It struck a guardrail, and then hit a concrete
pillar that was holding an overhead sign dangling over the southbound
side of the road. White’s tractor trailer truck rolled over onto
its side and then the truck caught on fire. Both White and Smith were killed.

Meanwhile, when White’s truck hit the post holding the sign on the
southbound side, the whole sign structure fell into the southbound lanes
of travel. Hugh Bruce Duling III, was driving another tractor trailer
that was heading along those southbound lanes. Duling, who was 58, ran
into the sign structure and lost control of his truck. Duling’s
truck ran off the road and went down an embankment. Duling was killed
in the crash.

Under Georgia law, tractor trailer owners are required to insure their
vehicles. Insurance cannot begin to assuage the emotional trauma that
the men’s families will undergo, but hopefully it can protect them
from the financial catastrophe of losing a family breadwinner. My condolences
go out to the families of all three men, for such a terrible tragedy during
this Christmas season.

I also would like to say a word about the state troopers and EMT’s
who worked the wreck scene. Over my years of law practice, I have talked
to hundreds of law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel
who have worked the tragic wrecks in which my clients were involved. Perhaps
sometimes the public gets the idea that these policemen, state troopers
and EMT’s can work the most tragic of wrecks without any emotional
toll at all. While certainly they do act in a professional way, it has
been my experience that the policemen and troopers and medical personnel
never stop caring about the people and the families involved, and so tragic
wrecks can be very difficult and disturbing to them just as they are to
anyone else. Nonetheless, the law enforcement officers and emergency personnel
risk that emotional turmoil to deal with the aftermath of these tragedies.
So at this holiday season, my heart goes out to all the people who responded
to the scene, and I also would like to say “thank you” from
all of us who benefit from their professionalism.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.