The pedestrian, whose accident was being investigated by two Carrollton police officers when they too were struck by a vehicle, died Nov. 23, causing the charges against the suspect to be upgraded.
The victim, whose name is not being released, was working in a grassy area alongside Bankhead Highway near Almon Road on Nov. 9 when he was hit by a vehicle between 9:30 and 10 p.m. that Friday. Though the victim was not actually in the road, he was still considered a pedestrian.
The victim was flown by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center and was in serious condition until his death two weeks later. The man was working on a patch of grass alongside Bankhead Highway near Lucky Buffet when he was hit by a vehicle driven by 38-year-old Luis Alonzo Castellano-Mejie.
Castellano-Mejie originally faced several charges, including driving under the influence, no driver’s license, reckless driving and failure to stop at an accident with serious injuries. Now that the pedestrian is deceased, Capt. Chris Dobbs of the Carrollton Police Department said Friday that the man’s charges have been upgraded to include vehicular homicide.
Officers Mario Potts and Brent Duggins were still on the scene several hours later investigating that accident when they were struck by a pickup at about 5:30 a.m. by a motorist who had pulled onto Bankhead from a service road.
Potts and Duggins, who suffered injuries that were not considered serious, started back on limited duty this week after 16 days of absence.
The two officers suffered injuries in their knees and hips, which remain severely swollen and sore, they said Friday.
“It’s good to be back at work,” Duggins said. “It’s good to be back doing something after 16 days of doing pretty much nothing. I caught up on a lot of TV shows.”
“Both are as lucky as can be, and are going to be fine, injury-wise,” Dobbs said the day of the accident.
Dobbs said the vehicle driven by Castellano-Mejie left the roadway and struck the pedestrian, who was not in the road when he was hit.
“Our traffic division came in because they knew he was in serious condition,” Dobbs said, referring to the pedestrian’s injuries. “They came in and blocked the roads, and shut it down with cars and blue lights. They were in the roadway, mapping the scene, diagramming and collecting the evidence.”
Sometime between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m., Dobbs said, a motorist turned west onto Bankhead from a service road, “right where our officers were working,” and hit Potts and Duggins.
“The two officers were mapping the scene of the earlier pedestrian crash the police department had worked at that location,” said Gordy Wright of the Georgia State Patrol. “A Nissan pickup truck being driven by Paul Thomas Powers, age 60, from Carrollton, entered the barricaded area and struck the two officers.”
Wright said there was no indication that alcohol was involved in the second accident. The vehicle’s windshield possibly fogged up, causing the driver to not be able to see the officers.
No charges have been filed at this time against Powers as of Friday, Wright said.