ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama State Trooper Benjamin Carswell has been down this road before. That gut-wrenching duty he’s done about a dozen times in three years, the solemn part of the job he dreads the most; informing a family that their loved one has died in a crash.
It’s difficult enough when one person dies, but what about when three are killed? That’s now happened twice in Alabama within two weeks.
“That’s the hardest part, and the hardest thing in the world to do,” said Carswell.
In Geneva County, Geneva police now say ‘excessive speed’ was a contributing factor in the triple-fatality that killed three teens from Geneva High School on Christmas night.
And just hours into the new year, there were three more deaths. These lives were taken on Rifle Range Road in Elmore County, about five miles east of Wetumpka.
The new year wasn’t even three hours old when the driver of the car, Ladarious Antonio Griffin, 25, of Montgomery, somehow left the road and struck a tree. A total of four people were inside; three died, another remains in critical condition.
Troopers identified the victims who died as Griffin, Charnavia Hinkle, 22, of Montgomery and Lamisha Avera, 22, of Wetumpka. The critically injured victim has not been identified.
Are triple fatalities becoming a trend? Thankfully the answer is no, according to Trooper Carswell.
“Yeah, it is unusual and unfortunate to see increased fatalities from a single crash, and that’s what we’re out here trying to prevent,” Carswell said.
With the advent of cell phones, there is little doubt distracted driving has become more problematic than ever before but it’s too early to say whether this had anything to do with what happened on Rifle Range Road.
And there is no evidence to suggest alcohol was part of the equation, either. The entire wreck remains under investigation.
However, we do this about the Rifle Range Road crash. “The deceased did not have their seat belts on and the sole survivor of the crash was restrained and wearing his belt," Carswell said.
There are shattered lives stretching from Geneva to Elmore counties and with that in mind, Carswell has no desire to make another unannounced home visit in 2020.