Driver arrested after deadly crash in Gordon County

A motorcycle rider was killed and others were injured when a Calhoun, Georgia, man allegedly drove his pickup truck into the back of the group of motorcyclists, dragging one.

The driver, identified by law enforcement as Robert Grady Dickson, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, first-degree homicide by vehicle, three counts of felony hit and run, four counts of serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, three counts of following too close and failure to maintain lane.

The motorcyclists were not identified.

The crash happened on northbound state Route 61 (U.S. Highway 411) in Fairmount, Georgia, on Sunday afternoon, according to a Georgia State Patrol news release.

Three motorcycle riders were flown to trauma centers by Life Force, a helicopter ambulance service, while two were transported by traditional ambulance, the release said.

Witnesses followed Dickson for about 6 miles before officers were able to stop and arrest the 73-year-old, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Photographs on social media of the crash showed a Harley Davidson motorcycle stuck in the front of Dickson's Ford F-150. Authorities also said the motorcycle was embedded in the front of the truck.

Dickson was traveling at a high speed, and the initial crash scene was about 1,000 feet long, the Georgia State Patrol said. The agency did not have updates on the conditions of the motorcyclists.

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The Gordon County Sheriff's Office website showed Dickson was being held at the Gordon County Jail without bail.

A lawyer or a contact for Dickson could not be reached before deadline.

Robert Houston witnessed the wreck while returning to his home in Chatsworth, Georgia, he said. Houston, who has a roadside assistance business, said he had just responded to a call.

In his rearview mirror, he saw the motorcycles moments before the impact, he said.

"I saw that white truck, and that guy was just flying," Houston said by phone. "And he ran up on that motorcycle."

Highway 411 is a straight two-lane highway where the impact took place, he said.

Once police stopped the truck, Houston turned on his truck's emergency lights and blocked traffic while law enforcement officers processed the crime scene, he said. He saw the driver of the truck once he exited his vehicle, but he didn't seem to be impaired, Houston said.

"It was a tragedy," Houston said.

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Terri Kemp, a resident of Dallas, Georgia, is a motorcycle rider who frequents the highway.

She said in a message on social media that she and fellow riders like Highway 411 because it's in a scenic area, there isn't much traffic and lots of other motorcycle riders travel that road. There's a brotherhood among motorcycle riders, she said, adding that she's made friends all over the nation on rides.

"Needless to say, when a brother or sister is injured, we feel the pain as if we were family," Kemp said. "When it's as senseless and tragic as this incident, it's literally heartbreaking, and it's impossible not to feel anger over the fact someone could do something so horrible to our motorcycle family."

Contact Andrew Wilkins at [email protected] or 423-757-6659.

  photo  Robert Grady Dickson