Co-workers killed in horrific tractor-trailer wreck

by: Dave Huddleston Updated:

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. —

The Georgia State Patrol is still investigating a horrific crash in Douglas County that claimed the lives of two metro Atlanta women Wednesday.

Witnesses said the driver of a tractor-trailer was trying to beat the light when he hit a Nissan, killing the driver, Michelle Chinnis, 35, and her passenger, Tracy Downer, 44.

The two women worked at AutoTrader.com.

Downer had been on the job three days when the crash happened.

"The staff is having a tough day today," company spokesman Lou Laste said.

Laste said many employees can't believe their co-workers are gone.

Flags were at half-staff at AutoTrader Thursday, and a memorial service is planned for Friday.

"Around 10 o'clock we'll have all employees came down to the lobby area and have their photos on display," Laste said.

Downer was a new employee at AutoTrader.

On her Facebook page, her last post was Monday.

"New job today. Hope I like this one," Downer said in her last post.

Chinnis, of Smyrna, worked for AutoTrader since 2004.

She was taking Downer on sales calls when the wreck happened.

Some of Chinnis' neighbors told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston wonderful things about her and her personality.

"She had such a sweet, sweet spirit. She really did. She spoke to everyone," neighbor Rico Jones said.

Chinnis was a single mother of a 16-year-old daughter, Jones said.

"She has no family here, and that was our major concern because of the daughter is here alone. We wanted to make sure she was covered and had someone she should go to," Jones said.

Jones said New York family members will take care of Chinnis' daughter.

Huddleston went to Downer's home, and no one wanted to talk, saying it was just too soon.

Downer's husband, Jeff, had just finished making funeral arrangements.

GSP said it is still investigating the wreck.

AuotTrader.com is owned by WSB-TV's parent company, Cox Enterprises.