A wooden cross painted in Georgia Bulldog red stood Wednesday afternoon beside a lonely, rural stretch of Old Jesup Road.
Photos memorializing 26-year-old Neal Sheppard George covered the cross, behind which two freshly cut water oak stumps jutted sideways out of the swamp toward the roadway. The stumps were what remained of the trees that killed George, crashing randomly across the road as he drove north on Old Jesup Road in the predawn hours Monday, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
State troopers describe a chance moment in which the water oaks became uprooted from a watery base in the swamp, just as George drove by on that narrow two-lane section of Old Jesup Road at around 2 a.m.
“Two large trees on the north shoulder uprooted and fell across the road,” state patrol trooper first class Sean Fagan wrote in his report.
The first tree crashed on top of the hood and cab of the George’s 1995 Chevrolet GMT400 pickup truck, the state patrol said. The Glynn County man was killed instantly, Fagan said.
Then the second tree fell on top of the truck bed, the report said. Evidence at the scene indicates George may have seen the falling trees and braked to avoid contact, Fagan said.
His truck “left a single skid mark 103 feet four inches long prior to the trees falling on it,” he wrote in the report.
“He did brake, but I think it was as he noticed it falling and it was too late then,” Fagan said Wednesday.
The crash occurred on Old Jesup Road in northwestern Glynn County, just south of the intersection with Burnt Island Road.
Fagan said George was not driving erratically and had not been drinking.
“He was entirely in his lane of travel,” Fagan said. “There were no less-safe acts or contributing actions on his part. No smell of alcohol, no impairment suspected.”
George’s Facebook page was filled with numerous words of condolence and fond remembrance.
“Rest easy. I promise I’ll never forget all the memories we shared,” one woman wrote.
“You did a lot of living in a way too short time,” another friend wrote.
Said his mother:
“RIP son! Me and pops love you! You were the best! Fly high and go Dawgs!”