Robin Kemp

If you drive through Morrow, be prepared to follow the law.

Morrow Police say they’re launching a Strategic Traffic Enforcement and Enhanced Response (STEER) starting Friday, Feb. 11. The effort is a full-court press against DUI, seatbelt and child restraint violations, distracted drivers, and speeders. Officers from all divisions–more than three times the usual number–will be on the road looking for violations.

Fair warning: The first area they’ll be working will be I-75 and Jonesboro Road.

On January 31, an alleged DUI incident claimed the life of a 7-month-old fetus and critically injured the mother, Ashley Acosta, 19, of Forest Park, who died several days later. Police say the driver, Jeffrey Cordell Fulks, 32, of Morrow, was under the influence of alcohol, ran a red light, and hit the victims’ car. Both Fulks and the driver of the other car, Emanuel Cortes Acoltzi, 19, also of Forest Park, were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Later that same day, police say, Adam Sebastian-Hernandez, 28, of Bluffton, SC allegedly was under the influence when he crossed into the oncoming lane of Reynolds Road and hit a car driven by Nykeeta Young, 31, of Forest Park. Young was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

In a press release issued Monday, Morrow Police Chief Renan Lopez and Mayor John Lampl said they would not tolerate reckless driving in the city.

“The goal of this initiative is voluntary driver compliance, and the greatest success would be no violations observed and no citations written,” Lopez said. “Our officers won’t be hiding, and we are announcing these efforts in advance. But, driving impaired, speeding, and distracted driving are no accident; and our officers will be conducting intentional education and enforcement to target those crash causing behaviors.”

Lampl added, “We know that safer roads build stronger communities. The City of Morrow is committed to making our community safer for residents and visitors, drivers and pedestrians alike. This initiative helps us send a clear message that Morrow is in the business of steering dangerous drivers out of our town.”

In 2021, Morrow saw almost 1,100 crashes that killed three people and injured 95 others. While Morrow itself only has about 6,569 residents, according to the latest 2020 Census figures.

Since the pandemic began, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that traffic fatalities nationwide were up 10.5% in 2020 at least an additional 12% in 2021, according to preliminary data. The biggest problems contributing to traffic deaths, according to NHTSA, are speeding, impaired driving, and unrestrained motorists.

Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton are the five deadliest counties for drivers in Georgia, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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