HORTENSE — A nurse who saw a pickup truck plunge into icy water in a ditch alongside U.S. 301 Tuesday did all she could to help a Waynesville man who was inside it. It wasn’t enough.
The man died and a Hoboken man was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when their vehicles — one towing the other — skidded off U.S. 301 North and down an embankment into a water-filled ditch at the edge of the Satilla River between Hortense and Raybon, said the Georgia State Patrol.
James Robert Mobley Sr., 56, of Waynesville, died in the 2:35 p.m. crash, said Amanda Dixon, GSP Waycross post secretary.
John Lewis, 51, of Hoboken, was taken by helicopter to UF Health in Jacksonville, Fla., for treatment of injuries he suffered in the crash, said Dixon. The parking lot at Twin Rivers Baptist Church, located nearby on U.S. 301, was used as the staging ground for the helicopter.
Georgianne Harper, a nurse from Hortense, was driving behind the accident, witnessed the trucks leave the roadway and then exited her car and ran into the ditch to try to help free Mobley from his vehicle, but she could not.
“I was on the speaker phone with Janet (Nichols, her friend), and I said ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!’ There was a truck pulling a truck and it went into the ditch,” said Harper. “It never tried to stop. It went straight down the ditch and pulled the other truck back and slid around.”
Harper said she was dressed in her nightgown but she didn’t give it a thought.
“I left my car in the middle of the road, I called 911 and the woman was asking me 2000 questions. I told her I did not have time. I fell down the hill and rolled down, hurting my leg,” said Harper. “I tried to get the man out. I got the seat to go back and all I could find was his arm and shoulder. He was wedged in between the seat and the dash.”
Today she is upset because the man died but she knows she gave it her all and she did pray for the man.
Harper was concerned because a lot of folks were walking around taking photos but nobody would offer to help her.
“I was in the water — it was freezing cold — I found his arm and I thank God I did. I just prayed to God. I tried, but I just couldn’t help him. He didn’t make any noise. I kept yelling for someone to tell me his name. Nobody would help me. The car was upside down.”
Mobley was driving a Chevrolet Blazer, pulling a Chevrolet pickup truck being steered by Lewis. Dixon said the two were northbound on U.S. 301 when they began to drift into the southbound lane. Both vehicles then crossed the southbound lane and skidded onto the shoulder of the roadway.
The Blazer traveled for 150 feet on the shoulder then began to rotate counterclockwise for 20 feet before overturning about 20 feet into the ditch. Dixon said the Blazer came to final rest on its roof, partially submerged in the water.
The truck being towed skidded for 154 feet and struck the ditch embankment, continuing for about 19 feet before coming to final rest in an upright position, partially submerged in the water.
“Time was of the essence, and I just feel so bad that I couldn’t help him,” Harper said. “All I could do was pray. I don’t know if he heard me but I was praying to God for him.”
Trooper Sherman McClain investigated the 2:35 p.m. accident.