Crash In Turnerville Claims The Life Of A Clarkesville Woman


A Clarkesville woman died in a Turnerville wreck yesterday afternoon.

69-year-old Elizabeth Peterson died when she pulled her Honda CR-V across the northbound lanes of Georgia 15/U.S. 441 from Tom Born Road and it was struck in the driver’s side by a Ford F-250 pickup truck.

The Georgia State Patrol says Peterson stopped at the intersection of Tom Born Road with Georgia 15, but then attempted to cross when her vehicle was struck.

After impact, both vehicles traveled north on Georgia 15 before leaving the shoulder and striking the guardrail.

Peterson was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center where, due to the nature of her injuries, she did not survive the crash, according to GSP.

44-year-old Eric Douglas of Franklin, N.C., who was driving the truck, was not hurt in the crash, that occurred minutes after 5 p.m., GSP says.

17-year-old Estephanie Negrete of Demorest is in custody in Walker County in the Northwest corner of the state after allegedly taking her 6-year-old sister on Sunday, triggering a statewide Levi’s Call.

At 1:10 a.m. yesterday, Habersham County deputies responded to a home outside Demorest to take a report about two missing young females, says Sheriff’s Lieutenant Matt Wurtz.

The mother of the missing girls told deputies her 17-year-old daughter, Estephanie Negrete, took her 6-year-old sister shopping at approximately 11 a.m. Sunday and she had not been able to make contact with them since.

They left the home headed to Commerce then possibly to Buford.

0:26 {WURTZ 1: “Mom comes home at about midnight and the daughters weren’t there. She realizes that the 17-year-old, Estephanie, had not taken her phone with her. So at about 1:00, when they still hadn’t shown up, the mother reported them as missing. Earlier during the week and earlier times prior to this week, she’d noticed that the daughter was possibly having some mental issues, so that concerned her even more.”}

Wurtz says the lookout for the 6-year-old listed her as missing and endangered, which is normal due to her young age.

About 7:45 yesterday morning, Walker County Sheriff’s Office notified Habersham County their officers had located the sisters on the side of the road there.

Asked for any motive or rationale in the case, Wurtz says that remains to be determined.

0:14 {WURTZ 2: “It doesn’t look like it’s a human trafficking case at all at this time. We’ll know more of what the intentions were, hopefully, of the 17-year-old when we get her back to Habersham and are able to talk to her and get her a mental health evaluation”}.

Negrete will be brought back to Habersham County, where Wurtz says the sheriff’s office will try to get her any needed help. She is facing a charge of interference with child custody, even though her mother initially asked her to take her younger sister shopping.

The Baldwin City Council has approved spending more than $431,000 to develop a piece of its land for a new public works facility.

The property, located on Industrial Park Road, is split into two tracts: just more than 14 acres and about 5 acres.

Mayor Joe Elam says he agrees with Councilwoman Stephanie Almagno that the conditions in the existing public works facility are embarrassing.

0:24 {ELAM: “The public works facility, as Mrs. Almagno mentioned, is in terrible condition. It’s not the kind of place that you would want to operate your own house or anything. It’s unfortunate it’s also down in a very low point and just getting in and out with those pieces of equipment is very, very dangerous, so there are many reasons why it’s important for the city to invest in a better facility.”}

The proposed public works facility consists of a driveway to access the site from Industrial Park Road, a 3,000-square-foot office, a 5,000-square-foot shop, asphalt drive, asphalt parking for city passenger vehicles, office staff, and visitors, gravel area for equipment and material storage, gravel around the shop. Also included are a stormwater pond and access drive to that pond, and a one-acre FEMA debris storage lot for use following disasters.

Council members discussed spending an additional $50,000 to increase the size of the stormwater pond to accommodate both parcels, but ultimately voted to go with the $431,000 option to keep project costs down since the cost does not take into account the building.

Financing will come through the city’s refinanced bond, a portion of which was allocated to pay for the public works facility.

A joint celebration of life for Gretchen Fox Echols and Ian Echols will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, October 15, in the chapel of Beck Funeral Home in Clayton.

8-year-old Ian died October 6 following a car wreck on U.S. Highway 76 West at Charlie Mountain Road in Rabun County.

His mother, Gretchen, died Saturday from injuries suffered in the same wreck.

Ian Echols is described by friends as a precious soul who loved his pets and his friends.

To know Ian was to know love,” a friend writes in an online tribute. “He was absolutely precious. Gretchen and Ian together was a ray of sunshine that stayed long after they were gone. I am so blessed to have known them and I will strive to be more like them.”

41-year-old Gretchen Echols of Clayton was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, and graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in political science from UGA and loved to read, draw, write, craft, and cook. She loved serving her community in numerous capacities and friends say she never met a stranger.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Echols Memorial Fund at Rabun County Bank or to F.A.I.T.H. in Clayton.