Police say fatal scooter crash was an accident

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  "He was saying please don't let me die. Please don't let me die."

Rosie Carey says she did everything she could to help 60-year-old Willie France after he was thrown across a Columbus intersection in an accident that ultimately took his life.

Police say France was riding in an electric chair at the intersection of 25th Street and Hamilton Road when he was struck by a car around 6 PM Thursday.

"I saw the car when it hit the man but I couldn't get there fast enough. When I did get there, I saw the man laying in the road so I went to his rescue," Carey said.

Willie France was ejected from his motorized scooter and left with an open fracture to his leg.

Tony Harrell also stopped to help and says France made one request of him.

"He asked me to go notify his kin people and I went and got his son and his mother and told them he had been hit," Harrell said.

France died hours later at the Columbus Regional Medical Center from multiple blunt force trauma injuries.

Early reports from the scene indicated the crash was a hit and run but police investigating it say that's not the case. It's being classified as an accident.

The driver of the car, 59-year-old Jerry Thorne, did not stop at the stop sign, according to police, but they say that could be due to a pre-existing medical condition. Thorne's family members tell News Leader 9 he is diabetic and blacked out at the time of the crash.

"It's a tragic thing," Harrell added.

The accident is still under investigation by the Columbus Police Department's Motor Squad.

The driver, Jerry Thorne, has been cited for not stopping at the stop sign.

Thorne is being treated at the Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.

Willie France's body has been sent to the crime lab for an autopsy.

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