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Firefighters work the crash scene Friday at Ga. Highway 36 and Nathan Thaxton Road.

JACKSON — Funeral services for two Covington women killed in a Butts County auto crash Friday evening were pending as of Tuesday afternoon.

Judy Martin, 72, and Sandra Bowden, 76, were among five people killed in the the two-vehicle collision on Ga. Highway 36 at Nathan Thaxton Road. The women were passengers in the backseat of a pickup truck driven by Bowden’s husband, Thomas Bowden, 79. Martin’s husband, Ronald Martin, 76, was a passenger in the front seat. Both men were injured and taken to area hospitals — Bowden to a Macon hospital and Martin to Atlanta.

The Bowdens and Martins were all members of Shiloh United Methodist Church. On Saturday the church posted a message to members about Saturday night’s tragedy: “Hearts are broken in sharing the loss of Sandra Bowden and Judy Martin in a terrible tragedy last night.

Praying healing and recovery for Tony Bowden and Ronald Martin.

Lord hear our prayers...”

Also killed in the wreck were three people in a Chevrolet Impala, including the driver, Shikym Jenkins, 23, of Garden City. Two passengers — Ebony Young, 25, of Savannah and Sukquawn Hayes, 26, of Garden City — were also killed.

According to Butts County Sheriff Gary Long, Bowden’s pickup was traveling westbound on Ga. Highway 36 at about 5:30 p.m. when it was struck by the Impala, which had earlier been pursued by a sheriff’s deputy in Monroe County.

A Monroe County deputy initiated a traffic stop of the Impala on I-75, but the vehicle sped away as the deputy exited his patrol car and approached on foot, Long said. The Impala exited the interstate at Ga. Highway 36 and headed east. By the time the vehicle had exited the interstate, Long said the Monroe County deputy had lost sight of it.

As a Butts County deputy headed west on Ga. 36 toward I-75 to assist, he was nearly struck head-on as the Impala passed at what was believed to be in excess of 100 mph, Long said. The deputy was delayed in turning around to give chase by eastbound traffic.

When the Butts County deputy was able to turn around and head east toward Jackson, he was met with the crash scene at Nathan Thaxton Road, Long said, where it appeared the suspect vehicle had left the roadway on the right shoulder and veered back into the oncoming westbound lane where it struck the pickup.

“The suspect vehicle ... was still running 100-plus miles per hour and nearly killed my deputy as they were traveling in his lane of travel,” Long said. “The vehicle was not being pursued by law enforcement at that time.”

Long said Jenkins, the driver of the Impala, was wanted on outstanding warrants out of Chatham County. Hayes, Long said, had a loaded pistol in his hand when he was killed in the crash and was also wanted out of Chatham County.

Long said Young, the female passenger in the Impala, was released from prison last December after serving two months of a six-year sentence on charges involving drug possession and fleeing law enforcement.

“Under Georgia’s current criminal justice reform she was released after serving only two months of a six-year sentence. As I see more innocent people killed at the hands of criminals released back into society under the reform, instead of serving their sentence, I can only hope that it would have our state legislators rethinking this horrible criminal justice reform,” Long said. “If she was where the judge had sent her these innocent people might still be alive.”

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.