CLARKESVILLE – A suspected homemade explosive device discovered when emergency personnel arrived on the scene of a wreck in northern Habersham County Friday morning shut down a busy state highway.
The wreck was reported just before 7:30 a.m. on Ga. 15/U.S. 441 at Tom Born Road in the Turnerville area and involved three vehicles, said Sgt. C.J. Coffee of Georgia State Patrol Post 7 in Toccoa.
“There was a piece of pipe that had fallen out of one of the vehicles that was hit and out of caution, we contacted the GBI bomb unit and they came out there and advised it wasn’t an explosive device,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Wurtz. “It was actually a container made out of PVC with caps and had magnets on it and stuff like that.”
The wreck happened when a 2000 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck driven by Ronnie Fair, 62, of Cleveland that was traveling east on Tom Born Road failed to yield while attempting to cross over Ga. 15/U.S. 441, striking a 1998 Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by Herman Macario Hernandez, 52, of Clayton, that was traveling south on Ga. 15/U.S. 441 in the left lane, Coffee said.
After impact, the Chevrolet pickup truck came to rest in the right southbound lane of Ga. 15/U.S. 441. A 2005 Pontiac Vibe driven by Jinny Webb, 48, of Clayton was traveling south on Ga. 15/U.S. 441 in the right lane and was unable to stop and struck Fair’s truck.
During one of the collisions, the pipe was dislodged.
“The device was a suspected pipe bomb,” Coffee said. “However, the GBI responded to the scene and determined it to be a 3.5-inch PVC pipe with a screw-in cap, not a pipe bomb.”
The homemade device looked suspicious enough to warrant close examination for safety, and the shutdown of Ga. 15 between Hollywood and Turnerville for almost two hours.
“Basically, all it ended up being is something you’d hide stuff in or put stuff in and put it under or within your vehicle with the magnets to hide it from folks or whatever,” Wurtz said.
Webb was injured but was not transported for treatment, Coffee said.
Fair was charged with driving under the influence, failure to yield after stopping at the stop sign, and no license on person, Coffee said.
Hernandez was injured and was transported to Habersham Medical Center for treatment, Coffee said. He was charged by GSP with driving while unlicensed.