Columbus High School Student Dies in Drunk Driving Crash
16-year-old Hannah Gilmer died tragically a week ago Friday when her boyfriend drove drunk and lost control of the vehicle. Clayton Qualls, 17, was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, DUI, and several traffic violations including illegal lane change.
The Columbus, Georgia high school senior died tragically at The Medical Center from traumatic internal injuries. Qualls remained in a Muscogee County jail with bond set just over $22,000.
Qualls was driving Gilmer’s 2006 Toyota Scion when the accident occurred. He was driving on County Line Road in Columbus and had just passed Randall Wood Drive. Qualls lost control of the vehicle, and the car spun out and hit an embankment. After that, it flipped several times before knocking down a wooden fence, hitting a tree, and coming to a stop upside down. Gilmer was ejected from the car when it flipped. Neither Gilmer nor Qualls was wearing a seat-belt.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the family and friends of everyone involved in this incident. I cannot imagine how hard this is for Hannah Gilmer’s family and all of the people who loved her. It is never worth it to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. Because Clayton Qualls decided to do so, a bright young girl lost her life. It remains to be seen what kind of sentencing Qualls will receive. A first-degree vehicular homicide charge is a felony in Georgia, and Qualls could face a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years.
In the wake of this terrible tragedy, I hope teens think twice before drinking and driving. I also hope that young drivers always remember to wear their seat belts. Seat belts can certainly make the difference between life and death.