NWGA Scanner | March 19th, 2021

Lyerly man crashes through bridge guardrail and lands in river while DUI in Chattooga County

Just after 1:40 AM, Wednesday morning Chattooga County E911 received a 911 call from a passerby that noticed that the guardrail on Lyerly Dam bridge had been busted through. The passerby got out of their vehicle to further investigate and noticed a vehicle below the bridge almost completely submerged in water up to the windows. Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office, Lyerly Fire Department, Summerville Fire Department, and Redmond EMS responded to the scene. According to Sheriff Mark Schrader, Deputy Alan Garmany, and K-9 Deputy Nick Robinson arrived within minutes of being dispatched. Fearing that someone was still inside the vehicle, Deputy Robinson, without hesitation, removed his duty belt and vest and jumped in the cold quick-moving water. Deputy Robinson was able to clear the front and rear passenger areas of the vehicle while still in the water ensuring no one was inside the vehicle. Swift Water Rescue and Luallen’s wrecker arrived on the scene and pulled the vehicle out of the water. Georgia State Patrolman Howerton and Georgia DNR game warden were also on scene. After further investigating to make contact with the driver, deputies and trooper learned the 2003 Honda Pilot belonged to Benjamin Matthew Hill, 36, of Lyerly. Units on scene advised the speedometer was stuck at 58 MPH. According to the Georgia State Patrol, the crash report is not complete, but the Honda left the roadway striking a guard rail and continued into a low-lying field that was flooded due to storms. The driver, identified as Benjamin Hill, was able to exit the vehicle and left the scene walking. Hill was located a couple of hours later at his residence on Hammond Street. According to the sheriff, Hill admitted to driving and said he had his seatbelt on during the crash. Hill said he had dropped his phone, and that was what caused him to crash. During Trooper Howerton’s investigation, Hill was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol and registered nearly twice the legal limit hours after crashing. Hill was booked into the Chattooga County Jail charged with DUI-driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to maintain lane, hands-free law, and seatbelt violation. Sheriff Schrader stated, “[I] would like to give a shout out to Deputy Nick Robinson and the local swift water rescue team for their quick response and entering the dark, muddy and rain swollen river for even the possibility of someone still being inside the vehicle.”