Dougherty HEAT officer involved in fatal wreck - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty HEAT officer involved in fatal wreck

Photo courtesy: WTOC Photo courtesy: WTOC

April 3, 2007

Candler County --  A Dougherty County Police Department HEAT officer is involved in a fatal car crash near Metter in Southeast Georgia this morning.

Officer Jeremiah Finn was on his way to Savannah for a law enforcement crackdown on speeding called Operation Thunder.

He was to help cut down on traffic fatalities there. But tragically his HEAT unit was involved in the crash that left one person dead and another seriously injured.

The 25 year old Finn, the Dougherty County Police Officer of the year, was driving on I-16 just outside Metter at mile marker 105 around 10:00AM, when his HEAT unit hit the back end of a U-Haul trailer being towed by a Toyota SUV. The collision caused the SUV to crash and overturn.

Thirty-three-year-old Milton Wilcox, the passenger in the SUV, was thrown from the car and killed. The driver of the SUV was his Father, 57-year-old William Wilcox of Athens. He was air lifted to a hospital and is reportedly listed in critical condition.

A Georgia State Patrol SCRT team from Reidsville is investigating the crash, to determine who is at fault.

A three year veteran with the Dougherty County Police, Officer Finn was not injured in the crash, but Chief Don Cheek says Finn is emotionally very shaken up.

Cheek rushed to the wreck scene, and says there was a lane change going on between the two vehicles when the collision occurred, but he is not sure who was at fault.  "We will probably have at least a brief administrative leave period. He's been through a pretty emotional experience. So we will be making a determination probably within the next day or two as to his status."

Chief Cheek said both the Dougherty County HEAT Units and their Officers returned to Albany this afternoon after finishing with the crash investigation unit.

Traffic on I-16 was backed up for hours after the crash as officers cleared and investigated the scene. Traffic was rerouted off the interstate through Metter.

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