According to the Georgia State Patrol Post 5 in Dalton:
Vance Wales Stafford, 25, of 92 Hidden Hollow Road in Ringgold was traveling east on Ga. 2, in the right lane, when his 2004 Honda Civic struck the rear of a vehicle traveling in the same direction.
Stafford’s vehicle overturned, coming to rest on its wheels, while the 1992 Ford Coupe went off the south side of the roadway into a wooded area, striking a tree head-on.
The state patrol arrived on the scene to find Stafford sitting in his vehicle while emergency personnel adminis-tered treatment to the driver of the second vehicle, Billie Lamar Cooley Jr. of Ringgold.
Stafford said he looked away for a second, and then the wreck happened.
While discussing the incident with Stafford, the investigating officer smelled the odor of alcohol on Stafford’s breath, resulting in breathalyzer, blood, and field sobriety tests being conducted.
Stafford’s breath test showed positive for alcohol at 0.210 percent, and the one-leg stand evaluation was stopped after three failed attempts.
Due to his impairment, and the severity of the wreck, Stafford could not refuse medical attention and was taken to Erlanger Medical Center.
The State Patrol informed Stafford that he was being charged with DUI, that he was not to leave the hospital, and that he would be transported to Catoosa County jail after being cleared from the hospital.
The officer on the scene went to Erlanger to check on the status of Billie Cooley.
“When I arrived at the hospital, Mr. Cooley was intubated and hospital personnel stated that his brain was bleeding,” the state patrol said. “After I left Erlanger, I had the radio operator check to see if Mr. Stafford was ready to be released. The operator was told that Mr. Stafford had already left the hospital.”
On Oct. 6, the State Patrol was informed by hospital personnel that Cooley had survived, but was in a high vege-table state.
Due to Cooley’s condition, charges were not filed at that time.
On Oct. 7, after being notified that Cooley had died from the injuries suffered in the wreck, warrants were ob-tained by the State Patrol on Stafford for following too closely, DUI, and first-degree vehicular homicide, a felony.
On Oct. 8, Stafford turned himself in at the Catoosa County jail. He has been released on a $23,500 bond.