Charges dropped against Ga. medical transport van driver in fatal crash
The 19-year-old medical transport van driver was facing charges of vehicular homicide and failure to maintain a lane
By Rosana Hughes
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — An ambulance driver who police said lost control of his medical transport van, leading to a crash that killed two people earlier this year, won’t spend time behind bars.
It was 19-year-old John R. Walker’s first day on the job when the crash took place in southwest Atlanta on March 20, killing his coworker, 29-year-old paramedic Ti’Quita Miles, and the driver of the SUV, 29-year-old Jada Whatley. He was charged with two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide, failure to maintain lane and speeding.
Walker’s trial started last week and ended abruptly on Friday when proceedings turned into a plea hearing, Channel 2 Action News reported. Prosecutors dropped all of the charges except for speeding, his attorney, Jackie “The Fly Lawyer” Patterson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution . Walker had been driving at 53 mph in a 35-mph zone, his warrant stated.
As a result, Walker was sentenced to a year on probation and will have to pay a $1,000 fine, Patterson said.
The victims’ mothers were in court for the trial when it turned into a plea hearing and said they felt justice had not been served, according to Channel 2 .
“They made a mockery out of my child’s death,” Whatley’s mother, Cheryl Price-Harris, said.
“I’m sick physically. I’m sick mentally. I’m spiritually broken behind all of this, and today, today I gotta go home and be broken,” she struggled to add through tears.
Walker apologized to the families in court, saying he wished it was him who had died, the news station reported.
“(I want to) emphasize how much myself and my client sympathize with the victims’ families because no parent should have to bury their children,” Patterson told the AJC.
That day in March, Walker was taking a patient home from a medical appointment when he dropped his phone and briefly looked down, the AJC previously reported. They were in the 4000 block of Campbellton Road near the Fairburn neighborhood, and when he looked back up, there was a car stopped in the road, causing him to lose control of the van.
The van struck the right curb, left the road and then re-entered into incoming traffic. That is when it struck Whatley’s SUV head-on. Whatley was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. She died at the scene.
The patient who was being transported also sustained injuries, but they were not life-threatening.