Cherokee County

Cherokee County man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide, DUI killing husband, wife

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A Cherokee County man has been sentenced to 30 years with the next 10 years spent in prison after pleading guilty to homicide by vehicle in the first degree (six counts), serious injury by vehicle (six counts), reckless driving, and driving under the influence (two counts).

In December 2022, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a four-vehicle crash on Knox Bridge Highway, just east of Canton.

William Bryan Abernathy, 52, of Calhoun caused the crash after losing control of his 2006 Chevrolet Silverado truck, deputies say.

During the investigation, deputies learned Abernathy had been drinking earlier that afternoon. Just before 4 p.m. that afternoon, Abernathy’s truck was spotted going 76 mph in a 55-mph speed limit zone.

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As he drove around a curve, Abernathy ran onto the shoulder, lost control, then re-entered the highway. This move caused him to lose control of the truck, and he crashed into the driver’s side of a 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe driving westbound, deputies say.

This caused the Sante Fe to leave the roadway and spin in a counterclockwise direction into oncoming traffic, where it overturned and then was hit by an oncoming 2008 GMC cargo van. The force of the two collisions caused the Santa Fe to run off the highway near the wood line.

When deputies responded, Abernathy lied and told officials he had not been drinking, did not remember anything nor how the accident happened. Deputies smelled what seemed to be alcohol and that Abernathy had issues with his balance, he later admitted to drinking a few beers.


Witnesses told CSO officials Abernathy had been “flying” down the two-lane highway just prior to the accident, zigzagging and attempting to pass on the shoulder of the road.

Officials took Abernathy’s blood at 7:53 p.m. (four hours after the crash) and at 9:51 p.m. (six hours after the crash), the blood alcohol level was .249 and .212, deputies said.

The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08.

The driver of the Santa Fe, Albert Vito Pallone, 65, and his wife Camilla Pallone, 69, died of blunt force trauma. Evidence shows that both were restrained by seatbelts and that multiple airbags deployed in their vehicle.

The other two drivers survived their injuries, but both had to be removed from their vehicles. The driver of the Mazda 3 suffered a broken right tibia, fractured sternum, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. The cargo van driver suffered fractures in the right foot and injuries to the right hand.

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“On December 10, 2022, two people lost their lives and two others were seriously injured as a result of this defendant’s decision to operate a vehicle while intoxicated,” said Assistant District Attorney Pete Lamb, who prosecuted this case on behalf of the State. “During the plea hearing, the courtroom was filled with family members and law enforcement officers showing their support of the victims. The Pallones were much loved by their family and their community.”

Albert and Camilla Pallone had three children, five grandchildren, and one grandchild. The couple resided in Emerson, Bartow County, where Albert Pallone served as the city’s mayor. During the plea hearing, family members provided victim impact statements describing their loss.


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