** We have updated this article to show the name of the driver and the offenses he is charged with. See last paragraph of this page. **
A two-vehicle accident that occurred Friday night on Shotwell Street in Bainbridge knocked over a utility pole, causing a power outage all the way across town at Centennial Field during the Bainbridge-Sandy Creek playoff football game.
The accident happened at about 9:40 p.m. on Shotwell Street, near its intersection with Russ Street. The football game between Bainbridge and Sandy Creek was well into the fourth quarter when the power outage forced play to be halted by referees.
Bainbridge High School will host a third-round playoff football game against St. Pius X at Centennial Field in Bainbridge, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
According to Bainbridge Public Safety, a black Ford Crown Victoria was headed west on Shotwell Street, while at the same time, a Ford Taurus headed east attempted to make a left turn into the Subway restaurant’s parking lot.
According to BPS, the driver of the Crown Victoria was driving without headlights, therefore, the driver of the Taurus didn’t see the other vehicle approaching and turned directly into its path. The cars collided and the Crown Victoria spun into a utility pole. The impact caused the pole to fall and lowered a large set of Christmas lights that had been hung across Shotwell Street.
Bainbridge Public Works employees were called to come and raise the lights using their bucket truck, so that Georgia Power was able to restore power. The stadium lights at Centennial Field came back on shortly before 10 p.m., but the game was delayed until almost 10:15 p.m. to allow the lights to “warm up” to their full brightness.
Back at the scene of the wreck, the impact of the Crown Victoria against the rear passenger side of the Taurus caused the Taurus’s trunk to come open, catapulting the spare tire and the tire iron across Lamar Street and through the Captain D’s parking lot. The tire knocked down a support column at the entrance of the Captain D’s restaurant, and the tire iron came to rest nearby. The Crown Victoria had taken down a stop sign before coming to rest against the power pole
The driver of the Crown Victoria fled the scene of the accident but was located by BPS officers shortly thereafter. No one was injured in the accident, but it did require BPS officers to temporarily close down all lanes of Shotwell Street for approximately an hour. The lanes’ closure was to allow the removal of the vehicles, clean up debris scattered all over the roadway, and make temporarily repairs to the lights and power pole.
The Crown Victoria’s driver, identified by BPS as James Turner Benton Jr., 32, of 732 Fleming Street, Bainbridge. Benton was arrested by the Georgia State Patrol and charged with DUI, failure to maintain lane, headlights and other lights required, reckless driving, seat belt violation, fleeing or attempting to elude police officer, reckless conduct, open container, expired vehicle tag or decal, leaving the scene of an accident and driving too fast for conditions.