Man charged in crash that killed wife

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - Sandy Springs police have charged a 74-year-old Tennessee man after a car crash that claimed his wife’s life.

Police said James Straley, of Kingsport, Tennessee, failed to yield to oncoming traffic while making a left turn off Roswell Road onto I-285 Saturday morning. His car was struck by an SUV heading south on Roswell Road.

“The red Jeep impacted into the side of the car with the elderly couple,” witness Tijiara Freeman told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.  “I proceeded to stop my car, put it in park, just being a good Samaritan to make sure everybody was OK.”

Freeman said she could see that Straley’s wife, identified by police as 74-year-old Ailsie Straley, was pinned inside the vehicle.

“I asked her husband if she was OK, ‘Does she have any injuries that you can see?’” Freeman said.

Straley later died at the hospital, and police told Petchenik they had no choice but to charge her husband with second-degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, and failure to yield.

“We raise our hand, swear to uphold the laws, and unfortunately, this is a tragic situation,” said Sgt. Scott Levy, head of the Police Department’s traffic unit.  “We evaluate the evidence, we evaluate the statements, and if there’s enough probable cause to support, even in tragic situations such as this, we’re obligated to go ahead and make the charge.”

Straley has bonded out jail and is back home in Tennessee.  Petchenik spoke briefly by phone with him and he called the situation “tragic,” but complimented police and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department for handling the situation with dignity.

Freeman told Petchenik she thinks the charges are unnecessary.

“Accidents happen.  Honestly and truly, we never know every time we get in a car what’s gonna happen when you get on the road,” she said.  “To charge the husband with vehicular homicide is taking it a bit far.”