[UPDATE] Fatal Pile-up in Pelham, Georgia

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

[UPDATED] 1-26 6:15 PM --

Services for 45-year-old David Bell will be held with full military honors Saturday afternoon (1/29) at 2 o'clock at Saint Mary Missionary Church in Baconton, and his burial will follow at Oakview Cemetery in Camilla.

Bell was killed in the early morning hours of January 20th 2011 when he attempted to turn off the shoulder of Highway 19 North... and pulled in front of an oncoming car.

Georgia Highway Patrol says heavy fog was a factor in the accident, and cautions drivers to slow down when visibility is low.


[UPDATED] 1-21 8:00PM --

It's not been long since David Bell died, and his family says the sorrow cuts like a knife.

Says his father-in-law, Arthur Caison, "I miss him already ... but I know God d[oesn't] make [any] mistakes."

The 45-year-old Autry State Prison correctional officer was killed on highway 19 North, (1/20) when he attempted to turn around off the shoulder of the road, and drove directly in front of an oncoming car.

Now, his family and friends are mourning their loss, but say the cherished memories they have with Bell will triumph over their grief.

The victim's brother, Charlie Bell, remembers him fondly:

"David was a loving brother, he was a kind brother, an understanding person. He tried to sympathize with everybody."

Bell's friends say he never let them down.

This sense of responsibility even won him the respect of his boss, Warden Cedric Taylor.

Taylor declined to come on camera, but he sent WCTV this heart-felt statement about his employee:

"Officer Bell was a dedicated 16 year employee of Autry State Prison. He was a Military Veteran, a people person, and well liked by anyone
privileged to meet him. He was a valuable staff member and will be
greatly missed."

Michael Wallace currently works at Autry State Prison, and says Bell was a great friend and co-worker:

"We served in Iraq together, and ... you just really couldn't get a better person than Mr. David Bell."

Bell's widow, Felicia, didn't want to talk on camera, but says her husband was the 'best father' his 11-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter could have asked for.


[UPDATED] 1-21 6:00PM --

A state prision correctional officer is dead following a crash early Thursday (1/20) morning.

David Bell, the 45-year-old father of 2, was killed while trying to turn around on Highway 19 North a little before 6 o'clock yesterday morning, (1/20) when he pulled off the shoulder of the road and directly in front of an oncoming car.

WCTV spent some time today (1/21) with the family of David Bell, who are overwhelmed with grief by the accident.

Close friends and family gathered at the home of Autry State Prison correctional officer David Bell to pay their respects and lend their support to his widow, Felicia.

Surrounded by Bell's photographs, awards, and momentos he collected while serving overseas, the family says they miss him dearly, but know he is in a better place.

Arthur Caison, Bell's father-in-law, says the family "... understand[s] these things happen, and [they] just have to pray and keep on looking to the head. And [they'll] be fine."

The Georgia State Patrol says heavy fog was a factor in the accident and no other people were seriously injured in the crash.

Bell's family says Robert Jester Mortuary in Camilla will be handling the funeral services, but no details have been finalized.

Bell's widow says she knows people will remember what a big heart her husband had, and what a large part of the community he was.


[UPDATE] 1-21 Noon --

The Georgia State Patrol says its investigation continues into a fatal accident on Highway 19 North that killed a Camilla man just before 6 o'clock yesterday (1/20) morning.

Eyewitness News spoke with a family member of 45-year-old David Bell this morning, and they said his death is just now starting to sink in.

Bell was killed on his way to work as a correctional officer at Autry State Prison when he attempted to pull off the shoulder of highway 19 to turn around.

They say he drove into the path of an oncoming car .. and that car then caused 3 additional crashes.

The Georgia State Patrol says their Accident Reconstruction Team was on the scene yesterday (1/20) afternoon putting the pieces of the crash back together.

According to the family member we spoke with, Bell left behind a loving wife, one son, and one daughter.

We spoke with Robert Jester Mortuary in Camilla, and they did confirm Bell's funeral services will be held there, but the details of those have not yet been finalized.


An Autry State Prison worker is dead after a crash in Mitchell County, and troopers say a blanket of morning fog was partly to blame.

Georgia State Patrol says 5 cars were involved in the fatal crash that happened a little before 6 o'clock this morning, just outside Pelham, Georgia, and the remnants of those vehicles were scattered across the highway when WCTV arrived on the scene.

Shattered glass, a smashed-in truck, and burned-out skeletons of cars were all that remained of a fatal crash on Highway 19 N that killed 45-year-old Mitchell County resident David Bell.

Troopers say Bell, who was a correctional officer at Autry State Prison, pulled off the east shoulder of the road and attempted to make a turn, but instead drove straight into the path of an oncoming car.

Senior Trooper Kenneth Jones worked the scene and explained, "The driver turned into the Oldsmobile, causing the Oldsmobile to overturn ... and come to rest in the roadway, which caused a series of other crashes."

Georgia State Patrol says heavy fog was a factor in this morning's (1/20) accident, and despite weather conditions, drivers must drive carefully when they're on the road.

Lt. Steve Jones with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office cautions, "With lower visibility people have got to slow down. You're still traveling the same amount of distance at 55 in good visibility as you are in poor visibility. Your ability to see a hazard or a danger is - well, on a day like today, was probably cut by a fifth."

GSP says the people in the 4 other cars involved in the accident suffered only minor injuries.

The victim's family did not wish to make a comment, but Bell's wife was visibly upset when she saw the wreckage.

We'll have more as information on the case is released.



A south Georgia man is dead after a morning car accident.

It happened on Highway 19 North, just outside Pelham.

Troopers say David Bell, an employee at Autry State Prison, was killed while he was pulling off the shoulder of the road to turn around and drove in front of an oncoming vehicle, around 5:30 this morning.

They say the car that Bell hit ended up in the middle of the highway upside down and sparked a chain reaction accident involving three more cars.

GSP says thick fog blanketing the area may be a cause.
They say people in the other 4 cars suffered only minor injuries.


An early morning car pile-up in Pelham, Georgia leaves one dead, according to the Georgia State Patrol. GSP says the call on the five car pile-up was received at around 5:51AM this morning, January 20. The pile-up occurred on Highway 19 North around Mile Marker 10. The GSP and Georgia Department of Transportation are on the scene. GDOT and GSP have the road closed off at this time, and traffic is being diverted onto Old Georgia Highway 3.

No other information is known at this time.

We have a reporter heading to the scene.

Stay with WCTV for updates.

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