LAWRENCEVILLE - Two traffic accidents that took place within minutes of each other Monday have left three people dead and two injured.
Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said firefighters responded to Lawrenceville Highway near King Arthur Drive at about 5:13 p.m. to find the drivers of a white Mitsubishi truck and gray four-door passenger vehicle entrapped. The truck's driver was deceased, Rutledge said. The driver of the sedan was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he died. A passenger inside the truck was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center with "serious injuries," Rutledge said.
The victims' names have not been released.
The driver of the third vehicle, a Central Fire Protection work van, was not seriously injured.
Lawrenceville police Capt. Jeff Smith said the accident is still being investigated, but that authorities believe the truck was traveling northbound while the sedan and van were traveling southbound.
"We're still trying to figure out where they came to occupy the same space," Smith said.
One bystander said she came out of her house after hearing what she said sounded like a transformer blowing up.
At the scene, the highway was littered with clothes, glass and car parts. Emergency workers had to cut the truck's top off to extract the driver. The sedan, which had come to rest against a curb, sat with its front end destroyed, its airbags deployed.
"The forces involved in this accident were incredible," Smith said.
About 20 minutes earlier, Gwinnett police had been called to the scene of a single-vehicle wreck on Alcovy Road near Ewing Chapel Road in Dacula.
"The car was heading southbound and, for reasons unknown at this time, left the roadway, hit an embankment and went airborne," said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli.
Both occupants of the white 2001 BMW X5 sport utility vehicle were ejected.
The driver was killed, Schiralli said, and the passenger remains at GMC in critical condition. Police are not releasing their identities at this time.
Schiralli said the vehicle flipped several times and neither occupant was wearing a seat belt.
Schiralli said this is the ninth fatality his department has worked in 2009, with six of them being single-vehicle wrecks.
"A large percentage of those would have survived, had they been wearing their seat belts," he said.