CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - In an exclusive interview, a local attorney said his client, former state Trooper Anthony Scott, is devastated about an accident he was involved in that killed two teenagers.
Isabella Chinchilla, 16, and Kylie Lindsey, 17, died when the car they were riding in was hit by Scott’s Georgia State Patrol car while making a left turn in Carroll County. The crash also sent two teenage boys to the hospital.
“He's sorry. He's a father. He never wants to see anyone lose their life. He doesn’t wake up, put on vest and go to work every day to see someone die in a horrible accident,” said defense attorney Mac Pilgrim. “He's had past military combat operations in the Marine Corps and he’s much worse, his psyche; he’s having a difficult time with this."
District Attorney Peter Skandalakis said he's never had a case where so many factors are involved -- where both drivers' actions possibly contributed to the outcome along with the conditions of the area.
“Both of them may have or have not been at fault. Speed may have been a contributing factor, failure to yield (as well). There is not just one, but a number of factors to look at,” Skandalakis told Channel 2’s Liz Artz.
Skandalakis said the grass had also not been cut for some time, which contributed to a limited line of sign sight coming over the hill where the crash happened.
“Where it occurred has been a dangerous intersection in the past. We’ve had accidents reported there before,” he said.
Longtime resident Thomas Cochran told Artz Highway 27 at Holly Springs Drive has never been safe.
“There needs to be something done with the intersection. The intersection is not right," said Cochran.
Authorities say Scott was driving 90 mph in a 55 mph zone on Georgia Highway 1 in Carroll County last Saturday just seconds before his cruiser struck the teenagers in a small Nissan. GSP said Scott's cruiser hit the car going about 65 mph.
“The 90-mile-an-hour number that’s been thrown around out there was long before the accident. He responded accordingly. He was not distracted," said Pilgrim.
State troopers said Scott had been verbally warned for a previous accident where he bumped his patrol car with his personal vehicle and received a written warning after sideswiping a car during a police pursuit. His attorney said those accidents were both very minor.
“There was a sideswipe. Nothing he was charged with, no recklessness or aggressive driving,” Pilgrim told Artz.
Pilgrim said there were alcohol bottles found at the scene. He said Scott volunteered to take a blood alcohol test, but a test was not given to the teen driver. Troopers told Artz they did not suspect the beer bottle and liquor bottle found the night of the accident had been consumed that night.
Pilgrim also told Artz the Georgia State Patrol is understaffed. Scott was working two counties by himself the night of the accident.
“He had been covering essentially the entire county by himself. As a trooper, they are under staffed, undermanned. He was headed to finish reports from a previous call in Newnan when the accident occurred,” Pilgrim told Artz.
Pilgrim called it a tragic accident.
The DA told Artz it will likely be anywhere from 30 to 60 days before he has the accident package before him and can review it.
After review, the DA would determine if Scott will be charged or if it will go to a grand jury. If the case goes before a grand jury, Scott will have an opportunity to testify without being crossed-examined. His attorney says Scott will be able to tell his side of the story.
Artz spoke on Monday to Lindsey’s grandmother, who declined an on-camera interview. She tearfully told Artz that Kylie was her little girl. The family is asking for prayers for their family, prayers for the other teens’ families and prayers for the trooper and his family.
Pilgrim said Scott was running for a Buchanan City Council seat at the time of the accident.