County reflects on recent drownings, deadly drag racing incident

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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At the close of the Troup County Board of Commissioners work session on Tuesday, Commission Chair Patrick Crews addressed the recent string of tragic deaths, including two deaths due to illegal drag racing and multiple drownings.

“We had several tragic deaths here in Troup County. A couple of them were due to drowning and a couple of deaths were attributed to an [auto] accident out on Antioch Road,” Crews said. “This is very sad what happened in those different situations.”

The car crash deaths appear to be the result of illegal street drag racing on Antioch Road. Cory Maddox, 42, and Matalito Bass, 47, were killed as a result of a race gone wrong, and three were seriously injured.

Crews said he had received comments that the county should take some action, so he began to think about it.

“I thought about it, and we as government certainly have some responsibilities on things to govern Troup County but also a lot of this responsibility falls on our citizens to let us know when there are things that are going on,” Crews said.

As for the drownings, Crews encouraged life jacket use.

“I thought about the deaths related to the drownings, and I don’t know for sure, but more than likely life jackets were not involved,” Crews said. “There are some programs that loan life jackets for people that don’t have it. As a one-time boat owner, it was my responsibility to make sure, [as] the law requires, that I have jackets in my boat to protect everyone.”

Deputy Fire Chief Zac Steele later noted that one of the drowning victims has been wearing a life preserver, but it appears he died due to having a medical emergency.

Steele said that since the incident, plans have been made to use one of the 17-foot Cape Horn boats from the sheriff’s office and outfit it for use by the fire department for emergencies on the lake.

“They’re getting it serviced, and then they’re going to turn it over to us. We’re going to refit with updated electronics and safety equipment and have that boat readily available in the water for the fire department guys to get on, especially during the summertime boating season,” Steele said.

As for the drag racing, Sheriff James Woodruff echoed that they need help to catch them but noted that they are elusive.

“Since 2016, we’ve gotten five reports of racing out there. Every time we’ve gone out there except one time the people have already been gone. The race is over, and it’s packed up,” Woodruff said.

He said the one time they caught anyone, it was just bystanders and they denied any knowledge of racing.

Woodruff said TCSO normally has a single deputy patrolling that quarter of the county, so unless they get some intel, it’s going to be difficult to catch the drag racers.

“Other than trying to get some intel when these races actually take place because they’re hit and miss. It’s not like it’s every Sunday at three o’clock,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff said they are working with Georgia State Patrol to investigate the deadly incident on March 10. He said they are also working with GSP to increase patrols in the area.