Driver who ran man over found at same Ponce de Leon bar where it happened, police say

ATLANTA — Atlanta police found a driver accused of hitting several cars and running a man over at the same bar on Ponce De Leon where the original incident happened.

The hit-and-run crash happened Jan. 7 on Ponce De Leon Avenue near Ponce City Market and several popular restaurants and bars.

Harrowing surveillance video captured the moments a driver crashed into several cars before hitting and running over a man in the parking lot of Friends on Ponce.

On Jan. 20, police got a call from the victim, Jeff Whitmire, who had spotted the car that hit him in the parking lot of Friends on Ponce. Whitmire said the driver was trying to enter the bar. When police arrived at the scene, a security guard said he had stopped the man, later identified as Payton Wells, from entering the business.

Police spoke to Wells, who said he didn’t remember the accident. Police reviewed surveillance video on Whitmire’s phone and confirmed that the driver who hit him was Wells. According to the officer, Wells was wearing the same hat on both occasions. The officer then checked Wells’ car, which matched the car in the video had body damage all over the vehicle.

Wells was placed into custody and given a copy of hit and run charges, though additional charges could be added. The case is still under investigation.


The original video, taken on Jan. 7, shows a driver police said is Wells back into one SUV and sideswipe another before plowing directly into Whitmire, who rolled between the SUV’s front tires.

Whitmire told police that he attempted to flag down Wells to get him to stop crashing into cars in the parking lot. Whitmire was able to run away from Wells as other people rushed outside to try to stop him.

“Luckily bystanders distracted him enough for me to roll over out of the way afterwards before he decided to reverse his car which could’ve made a bad situation worse. Adrenaline allowed me to roll out the way somehow walk, get out of his way before finally collapsing to the ground,” Whitmire said on his GoFundMe page.

Whitmire said he sustained injuries to his legs and has been unable to work. He’s crowdfunding money to pay for his medical expenses.

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