The DeKalb Solicitor-General's office said Thursday that James Miles of Loganville pled guilty to vehicular homicide, reckless driving, following too closely, failure to maintain lane, and improper lane change that led to an accident on U.S. 78 (Stone Mountain Freeway) in 2009 in which three people died and six were injured.
DeKalb State Court Judge Johnny Panos sentenced Miles to five years, two of which he is to serve in the work release program, the Solicitor-General's officer said.
Miles also must perform 240 hours of community service, attend three victim impact panels, and a defensive driving course. His license is to be suspended for five years as a condition of his probated sentence, the court ordered.
Witnesses told police that Miles clipped the back of the commuter van during rush hour traffic in October 2009. The van's driver lost control and overturned, police said.
The driver of the van, Robert Harold Clinton Jr., and two passengers, Ollie Benny Stephens Jr., and Cindy Fitzgerald, all of Lilburn, were killed. Injured were passengers Wanna Philpot and Gary Davis, both of Stone Mountain; Sandra Bonner and Courtney Singleton-Hill, both of Lilburn; Chris Ellis and Keith Reese, both of Lawrenceville, news organizations reported from police.
The van was carrying Georgia Power employees.
“These types of case are among the most tragic our office sees," DeKalb County Solicitor-General Sherry Boston said in a release about the hearing. "The victims in this case were on their way home from work in a commuter van that their company had provided. They were doing what we all do each day – heading home after a long, hard day of work while trying to make a living."
"Sadly, the defendant didn’t take the time to follow the rules of the road and drive responsibly and safely. His careless decision-making had catastrophic consequences. Nothing will bring back the lives that were lost in this tragic, avoidable vehicle crash or give peace of mind to their families and those who were seriously injured. Today’s plea will be a step in bringing justice and, perhaps, some closure to the victims, their families, and the survivors. Let today be a reminder to us all to drive safely and responsibly. An unsafe lane change and weaving-in-and-out of traffic can have deadly consequences.”