Monday November 30th, 2015 7:22PM

Holiday travel fatality count grows

By Staff
CLARKESVILLE - According to the Georgia State Patrol, 8 people, including three from North Georgia, have died so far on Georgia roads this holiday driving season.

Within hours of the beginning of the holiday travel season, three people died in three separate accidents in North Georgia.

The first fatal crash occurred Friday at 6:40 p.m. on New Liberty Road north of Clarkesville. The Georgia State Patrol said Melvin Shane Stephens, 46, of Clarkesville was traveling north on New Liberty in a 2003 Chevrolet Impala when the vehicle ran off the road in a curve. Investigators said the car traveled down an embankment, hit several trees and overturned.

They said Stephens died at the scene. A passenger in the vehicle, Tim Cantrell, 46, was taken by air ambulance to Gwinnett Medical Center. The GSP said neither man was wearing a seat belt, and alcohol is suspected as a factor in the crash.

"This is the first fatality for northeast Georgia for the start of this holiday weekend," said Habersham County Coroner Kasey McEntire. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stephens family at this difficult time. Arrangements for Mr. Stephens are being handled by Hillside Memorial Chapel of Clarkesville."

GSP investigators also investigated a fatal accident around 7:40 p.m. Friday in Barrow County. A head-on crash on Rockwell Church Road, 0.3 miles west of Moons Bridge Road, killed Corey Scott Appling, 29, of Buford.

Appling's 1996 Toyota Tacoma, which he was driving, crossed the center line and hit a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier. The driver of the Chevrolet, Connie Sue Wallace, 46, Winder, was taken to Athens Regional for treatment. Investigators said Appling was not wearing his seat belt.

Also, early Saturday morning, troopers investigated a fatal accident on Georgia 323 in Banks County.

The victim in the accident, Barry Lane Forrester, 53, of Maysville, was killed while working underneath his vehicle. Investigators said Forrester's pickup truck had broken down near mile marker 4 and he was under the vehicle performing repairs when a Chevrolet Silverado being driven by Jerry Truman Blackwell, 64, of Ellijay hit the disabled truck, pinning Forrester underneath.

The Christmas holiday travel period began at 6:00 p.m. Friday and extends through midnight Tuesday.

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