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Coffee County wreck claims the lives of two locals
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Correction: Due to a source error, Saturday's print edition lists Midway resident Walter Jerome Highsmith as being seriously injured in the Jan. 18 Coffee County collision. He actually died at the scene. The News regrets the error.

A Jan. 18 head-on collision in Douglas, Ga. claimed the life of 13-year-old Midway resident and former Richmond Hill Middle School student Savannah Highsmith and her father Walter Jerome Highsmith, 38, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Several others came away with serious injuries, including 31-year-old Christy Highsmith and 12-year-old Richmond Hill resident Trenton Gustafson.

A Mercury Villager van driven Christy Highsmith and carrying her husband Walter, daughter Savannah, Laney Highsmith, 6, and family friend Gustafson, was traveling eastbound on New Forest Highway, a county road. According to GSP Sgt. David Lacey, the van veered into the westbound lane. At the same time, 36-year-old Douglas resident Christopher Merritt was travelling toward them.

"Mr. Merritt took evasive action and steered left, but the two vehicles impacted in the eastbound lane," Lacey said.

The victims were rushed to Coffee County Regional Medical Center. Walter Jerome Highsmith died at the scene. A hospital representative said Savannah Highsmith died shortly after arriving at the hospital and Gustafson was admitted to the intensive care unit. All others have been discharged from the hospital.

Lacey said no one was charged or cited, and the investigation on the accident has been turned over to GSP’s Severe Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT). The Highsmiths recently moved to Midway from Richmond Hill, according to authorities.

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