0

Report: Acura at fault

LAWRENCEVILLE - Police say a preliminary accident diagram released Thursday shows definitively that Carmon Cody Rhoden's red Acura RSX - sweeping in a wide arc out of an HOV lane - triggered the deadliest single accident ever on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett.

The report differs from the account Rhoden's attorney and family gave hours after the 20-year-old automotive technician from Gainesville was jailed on a slew of charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide and hit and run.

Rhoden's attorney, Jeffrey Sliz, and family denied he was driving erratically before the five-car crash that killed four people, including three members of the same Lawrenceville family. Rhoden was driving home with a friend from the Atlanta Braves' home opener at the time. Sliz said the arrest could have been a police reaction to public pressure.

Rhoden remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.

The police report also identifies Rhoden's passenger during the crash as Josh Kitchens, 23, of Gainesville. He was not injured in the crash and has not been charged with a crime, Gwinnett police said. Kitchens could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Rhoden allegedly fled the scene and dumped his battered Acura at a nearby hotel. He turned himself in a day after the crash when police secured warrants for his arrest. He made his first public court appearance Thursday morning.

During the initial hearing, Rhoden, dressed in an obligatory green jumpsuit, shook hands with his father as the elder whispered "I love you" to his son. Gwinnett Magistrate Court Judge James Argo read Rhoden his charges and set a probable cause hearing for April 11.

Meanwhile, one crash victim remained hospitalized Thursday.

Demetrius Randle - the father of two killed and grandfather of one - remained in critical condition Wednesday at Gwinnett Medical Center, a spokesperson said. Parts of his body "have been rendered useless as a result of the collision," according to Rhoden's arrest warrant.

The report released Thursday shows that Rhoden's Acura clipped a black 2003 Ford Excursion, causing it to flip twice. Four of the seven occupants in the SUV died, including a Lawrenceville woman, her 13-month-old son and her 14-year-old brother, who attended Peachtree Ridge High School, police said.

They were identified Tuesday as Whitney Randle, her son Kayden Alexander Randle-Finley and brother Alexander Randle. The family was en route to Lawrenceville from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The SUV's driver, Mark Anthony Gay, 44, was also killed.

Gwinnett County Police Department crime analysts said the quadruple fatality is the deadliest single crash in the history of Gwinnett's busiest roadway, Gwinnett police spokesperson Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

Rhoden's supporters maintained at a Wednesday press conference his vehicle was struck first by the SUV. Rhoden's family said he has a relatively clean driving record, with two traffic tickets in four years.

Friends of the Randle family have established a memorial fund to cover funeral costs.

Donations can be made to the Randle Family Memorial Fund at Georgia Trust Bank by either visiting the bank or mailing a check to 2725 Mall of Georgia Blvd., Buford, GA 30519. For more information, call 770-614-7644.