An 80-year-old woman was killed Friday afternoon in a crash in Gwinnett County, and police believe the vehicle’s driver may have been rushing to catch up to a funeral procession.
The woman and the elderly man who was driving were in a maroon sedan traveling behind a motorcycle officer who was assisting with traffic control for the procession, according to Gwinnett County police.
Around 3 p.m., the officer stopped traffic on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to allow the funeral procession to cross on South Waterworks Road in Buford, police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said.
When the last vehicle in the procession had cleared the intersection, the officer released traffic on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
It was then that the driver of the maroon SUV on South Waterworks Road allegedly ignored a red light and attempted to cross, Cpl. Smith said.
The SUV was struck on the passenger side by a white pickup truck traveling on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The 80-year-old passenger in the SUV was killed and the elderly driver was transported to a local hospital, police said.
The woman was identified late Friday as Nira Patterson, said Mr. Ted Bailey with the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office. Address records show Mrs. Patterson lived in Cumming, according to a media report. The name of the man Mrs. Patterson was traveling with was not released and his condition was unknown Saturday.
The driver of the pickup truck was not seriously injured.
Mrs. Margi Philbin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she and her husband, Brian, watched helplessly as the pickup truck slammed into the sedan, killing the woman on impact.
After watching the crash, the Alpharetta couple pulled into the median and ran to the red car to help. The Philbins were the first to reach the couple, Mrs. Philbin told the paper.
As her husband tried to calm the injured man behind the wheel, Mrs. Philbin said she checked for any vital signs from the woman in the passenger seat.
There were none.
“We have a strong suspicion she broke her neck on impact,” Mrs. Philbin said.
She said she saw a funeral program on the backseat of the damaged vehicle. The car’s driver was seriously injured in the crash, according to police.
Despite his injuries, the man repeatedly called the woman’s name in the minutes after the crash, Mrs. Philbin said.
“The whole time, he’s holding her hand and trying to get her to answer him,” Philbin said. “It was heartbreaking. It was clear he loved her.”
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