Victims from string of car wrecks say driver intentionally tried to hit them

by: WSBTV.com<\/a> web staff Updated:

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SNELLVILLE, Ga. - The man accused in the string of 15 car crashes that killed one person made his first court appearance Thursday as more victims came forward saying the man intentionally hit them all.

Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh obtained video of Michael Owen Snider, 70, as he was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail overnight.

Officials said that Snider struck several cars on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County and then caused a five-vehicle wreck on Highway 78 in Gwinnett County.

Investigators said one of the wrecks turned fatal before Snider finally crashed into a restaurant, ending the string of wrecks.

In the booking video, it appears he's wearing sunglasses and limped as he clung to loose fitting scrubs.

Police said they took Snider to the hospital on his way to the jail.

Snider faces several charges including vehicular homicide and DUI after police said he set off a 15-car crash, spanning two counties, killing a 69-year-old woman.

Several people were hurt, including Dennis Brown, who said a pickup truck slammed into the back of his car.

"I was at the light, and I look through my rear and I saw this big pickup truck," Brown said.

Brown said it appeared that Snider was trying to hit him.

"He intentionally tried to hit me. He chased me down the road," Brown said.

Another victim called Channel 2 Action News claiming the same thing.

When Snider crossed into Gwinnett County, police said he caused another 10 crashes.

Sara Green said she saw what happened after the wild ride came to a tragic end.

"I see a sedan that was crushed up to the passenger and driver seat. There was two people. I couldn't see if they were OK or not," Green said.

One witness of that crash took matters into his own hands and said he smashed through the window of the car to help the women pinned inside.

"All I was thinking about was the people in the cars,” Chris Church told Kavanaugh.

Church said he saw the horrific car crash unfold outside his restaurant on Stone Mountain Highway.

He said the driver of the pickup slammed into the sedan carrying the women, crumpling the car as it was pinned under a tractor trailer.

"(I) ran to the car trying to pry the door open, smashed through the glass," Church said.

Church said he could only reach the driver. He said several other people tried to help him pry the doors off the car.

"She had a weak pulse. Then I noticed someone in the back seat wasn't moving, nothing,” Church said. "I just felt horrible. They're hopeless in the car. There was nothing we could have done."

Police said the passenger of the car, Mintiwab Woldeyhans, 69, of Loganville, died at the scene.

The driver, Yeshihareg Abebe, 51, of Grayson, remains in critical condition.

"It's kind of a wake-up call, hopefully for our county and places around us, that (this) is unacceptable. The grief that was cause last night was just tremendous," Green said.

Police would not comment about if they were considering that Snider was intentionally trying to hit people.

A couple whose car was among the vehicles struck by Snider, said he repeatedly rammed the rear of their car also.

"I hit the gas, but it wouldn't go any faster. At that time he plowed into it, backed up and went ahead and plowed into it again. A total of four times," Manuel Johnson told Channel 2’s Tom Regan.

Johnson said he and his wife were on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County when they spotted a large pickup truck racing up behind their Mercedes sedan.

"I said, ‘Manuel, floor it. Let's get out of this man's way.’ And when we tried to drive off, he followed us and kept hitting us until he was satisfied the car was disabled. And he then went around us and hit the next car," Jeanetta Johnson said.

Manuel Johnson said the damage to his car is in the thousands of dollars. He and his wife believe the accused driver was on an assault mission with his truck.

"He was using it like a weapon," Manuel Johnson said.

Jeanetta Johnson said it was a terrifying ordeal.

"It was just horrible. It seemed like his goal was to kill us," she said.

Kavanaugh checked into Snider's criminal history and did not find any list of priors in DeKalb or Gwinnett county.

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