Lula Teen Faces Charges From Fatal Wreck on U.S. 441 Thursday


A Lula teen faces charges of second-degree homicide by vehicle and failure to maintain lane after a wreck that claimed the life of his teen passenger yesterday morning.

17-year-old Jacob Elliott was driving his 2000 Chevrolet S-10 truck south on U.S. 441 negotiating a left curve south of Berlin Road when the truck left the road and struck a tree with its front, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

17-year-old Austin Fontes of Commerce, who was not restrained by a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was pronounced deceased on the scene by the Banks County Coroner’s Office, GSP reports.

Elliott was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Drugs and alcohol were not suspected to be a factor in the crash. GSP Troop B Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is assisting with the investigation.

The wreck happened about 7:37 a.m. yesterday.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a goal of ending drunk driving so there are “no more victims”, and the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office HEAT Unit is a big part of that mission.

Habersham County Sheriff’s Office made 302 DUI arrests in 2020, with 258 of those coming from Deputy Brandon Holcomb and Corporal Kris Hall of the HEAT Unit, as Hall explains.

0:43 {HALL 1: “The agency itself received DUI Hero Agency for Category 3 of the Year and that goes into the same thing, the number of agency-wide DUI arrests, impaired driving enforcement education, and then community involvement. The HEAT Unit was named the Golden Achievement Award winner, which is the big award for MADD – basically for the same thing, for our involvement, our expertise in our field, our reductions of fatalities and crashes and injuries here in the county, and the number of DUI arrests, and just an overall big picture on what we do for DUI enforcement and supporting MADD’s mission of reducing fatalities and trying to get to that goal of zero.”}

Hall says the sheriff’s office will eclipse that number in 2021.

0:07 {HALL 2: “We’re already above 300 combined just for the HEAT Unit and that’s not including Patrol, so we’ll far exceed that by the end of the year.”}

MADD’s 2021 Golden Shield Awards were presented Wednesday in Atlanta, where Hall and Holcomb were honored.

Hurricane Ida is in the rearview mirror for Georgia, but not so for the people of Louisiana.

That’s why Habersham Electric Membership Corporation has sent a crew to help with power restoration in one of the hard-hit areas.

0:21 {FERGUSON: “We currently have a six-man crew in the Washington-St. Tammany area of Louisiana. They’ve been out there since the beginning of the week. We anticipate them to be there possibly two weeks and then maybe do a rotation and send a fresh crew after that. We’re also proud to be able to donate a pallet of water for the first responders in that same area.”}

That’s HEMC President and CEO Bryan Ferguson, who says the electrical cooperative is teaming up with the sheriff’s office to deliver the water.

Habersham County Sheriff’s Sergeant Griggs Wall, through the Police Unity Tour, will deliver that water and other supplies collected to the affected area this weekend.

Power restoration in Louisiana could take four weeks, officials estimate.

Habersham County Sheriff’s Sergeant Griggs Wall says he and other Police Unity Tour members want to give back to their counterparts in Louisiana who are dealing with loss and devastation following Hurricane Ida.

Wall and Police Unity Tour members in Gainesville and Doraville, as well as Collierville, Florida, have collected tarps, bottled water, paper products, and other necessities.

0:35 {WALL: “The group from Louisiana, those are some really – I guess the best way to put it is -- some spectacular people. Other members throughout the Southeast have been hit by devastation such as hurricanes in South Florida. Those guys were the first ones that showed up on their doorstep not asked, and that’s just the way these guys and ladies are – just their personalities. They’re always out there to help people and they were devastated nearly two weeks ago with Hurricane Ida that hit them and I felt compelled with the way they are, it’s time for us to return the favor and help them out, so that’s what’s got us doing what we’re doing today.”}

Wall says the supplies will be delivered over the weekend and he appreciates all the donors thus far.