Thursday May 23rd, 2024 3:16AM

Man arrested in crash that led to death of former Hall County GOP Chair

By AccessWDUN Staff

The at-fault driver in an April 9 two-vehicle wreck in Hall County that led to the death of a former Hall County GOP Chairman is now facing charges.

Hall County Jail records show John Richard Shelton, 77, was arrested for failure to yield and second-degree homicide by vehicle for the death of James Gisonna.

Shelton has since bonded out of jail.

That wreck happened at about 6 p.m. on April 9 on Poplar Springs Road at the road's intersection with Hawthorne Drive. 

The Georgia State Patrol said Gisonna was driving a motorcycle westbound on Poplar Springs Road by Hawthorne Road at the same time Shelton was driving a Nissan Sentra sedan eastbound on Poplar Springs. Shelton was attempting to turn into the Johnson High School parking lot at the intersection.  Shelton told the state patrol that he did not see Gisonna's motorcycle approaching as he attempted to turn left into the parking lot, and directly into Gisonna's path. 

GSP said Gisonna attempted to stop but skidded before coming into contact with the Nissan. Gisonna died from his injuries.  

 

Original story published April 11 at 5:30 a.m.:

The former Chairman of the Hall County Republican Party passed away Tuesday in a traffic accident.

Hall County Coroner James Bell confirmed that James Gisonna died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Poplar Springs Road in the South Hall area Tuesday. Gisonna served as chairman of the county's GOP from 2021 to 2023.

The party reacted to Gisonna's death in a social media post Wednesday.

"The Hall County Republican Party is saddened to have learned of the loss of a friend and fellow conservative," the post said. "We will miss his humor, his positive attitude, and his bigger than life presence he brought to a room. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Current Hall County GOP Chair Rich Elsarelli said he knew Gisonna for a little over two years and described his predecessor as "larger than life."

"He had a big personality. He was a fighter. He did whatever he could to right a wrong and had a great sense of humor," Elsarelli said. "He's one of those human beings that you want around. I know he was involved in some other charitable organizations...he had a huge heart and was very genuine in the things that he did."

Georgia State Patrol's initial investigation shows that Gisonna was travelling along Poplar Springs Road westbound by Hawthorne Road at the same time a Nissan Sentra sedan was heading eastbound on Poplar Springs,  after 6:20 p.m. Tuesday evening, when the unidentified driver of the Nissan was attempting to turn into the Johnson High School parking lot at the intersection.  The driver of the Nissan advised GSP investigators that he did not see Gisonna's motorcycle approaching as he attempted to turn left into the parking lot, and directly into Gisonna's path. 

GSP says Gisonna attempted to stop, but skidded before coming into contact with the Nissan and died from his injuries.  No further details on the accident have been released.

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