After turning east onto the F.J. Torras Causeway in morning rush-hour traffic July 30, the silver 2011 Jaguar XF launched into a mile-long high-velocity rampage with heedless disregard for fellow motorists, witnesses told Georgia State Patrol troopers.
One of those motorists paid with his life, killed when the speeding Jaguar rear-ended his older model pickup and propelled it into a tree near the Back River Bridge, state troopers said.
Joseph Wrice, 62, a beloved and gifted gardener, was driving his 1995 Chevrolet Silverado across the causeway for another day of work on St. Simons Island.
A week later, charges have not been filed against the Jaguar’s driver, Connie Natasha Calhoun, the state patrol said. But the crash investigation remains open and the state patrol said charges are pending against the 45-year-old Glynn County resident.
The News was waiting for charges to be filed to identify the driver, but her identity has been released by other media outlets.
State Patrol reports released Wednesday paint a picture of a wildly reckless display of driving that led up to the deadly crash with Wrice’s truck. Witnesses told troopers that Calhoun pulled onto the right shoulder and exercise trail beside the roadway to pass vehicles at high speeds, side-swiping one vehicle in the process.
State troopers said Calhoun was speeding when she zipped back onto the roadway at around 7:55 a.m., lost control and struck the back of Wrice’s truck.
“After impact, (Wrice’s truck) traveled off the roadway to the right down an embankment striking a tree with its front,” a state patrol crash report stated.
The Jaguar also went down the embankment, crossing a service road before running head-on into a palm tree. A passerby who helped Calhoun out of the car told troopers she was “dazed and confused and was stating she was hit from the rear,” the patrol’s incident report said.
She was taken by ambulance to Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital where she was treated “for minor injury complaints,” the report said.
Blood samples taken at the hospital from Calhoun are being tested for alcohol and drug content, the state patrol said. Results are pending.
The impact left Wrice’s body trapped inside his crumpled pickup, the incident report said. Glynn County firefighters “cut the roof off the vehicle to remove the deceased,” the report said.
Speeding, improper passing, reckless driving, following too close and “other” are listed as driving infractions that contributed to the tragedy, according to crash reports.
Troopers talked to at least half a dozen witnesses.
“Jaguar was traveling east on the F.J. Torras Causeway at a high rate of speed passing them,” trooper Christopher Rigby writes in the incident report. “One witness stated the Jaguar struck their vehicle approximately a mile before the fatal crash. ... The witness said the Jaguar was traveling on the sidewalk passing cars. Witnesses also stated the Jaguar came back onto the roadway striking the blue Chevrolet Silverado in the rear.”
Moments earlier, a 42-year-old Darien woman who was driving a 2011 Hyundai Sonata in the outside lane said she looked over and saw the Jaguar passing her on the side of the road, according to the state patrol. State troopers said Calhoun sideswiped the Hyundai in the process, then ran over a speed limit sign.
The woman in the Sonata pulled over. Neither she nor the 70-year-old woman riding with her was seriously hurt.
Troopers said Calhoun “continued east and fled the scene” after striking the sign.