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Covington driver guilty of fleeing after causing fatal I-20 motorcycle crash
Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Center
The Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Center - photo by Courtesy of Newton County

COVINGTON, Ga. — A Covington man said Wednesday he was guilty of charges the vehicle he was driving struck a motorcycle last October and he left its driver to die on the side of I-20 without calling authorities.

Randolf Smith, 46, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide, hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident and other charges before Judge Ken Wynne in Newton County Superior Court.

The charges were related to an Oct. 16, 2020, incident in which Smith was driving a vehicle on I-20 eastbound and struck a motorcycle driven by Thurston Hines at about 3:20 a.m. between the Almon Road and U.S. 278 exits in Covington.

Hines, 70, of Maple Hill, North Carolina, died eight days later at Atlanta Medical Center, according to an obituary.

Warrants alleged Smith was driving his vehicle recklessly and following Hines' motorcycle too closely before striking it in the rear.

Smith then fled the scene without calling 911 and later threatened deputies who both stopped him after the incident and placed him in custody at Newton County Detention Center, warrants stated.

Wynne allowed a statement from Hines' son, Christopher, who told Smith he was troubled by his actions toward the victim.

"I wish you would've just stopped," he said. "You left him there to die and that's what bothers me the most."

Relatives of Smith on Wednesday testified he wanted to apologize to the victim's family. 

Smith had "an entire side of him that's not being seen" because he was a good provider for his family and was in Covington taking care of his ill mother before the October wreck, according to testimony.

He also was a product of a single-parent household who never knew his father and whose mother was not as present in his life as she should have been, they testified.

But Assistant District Attorney Bailey Simkoff Wilkinson told Wynne that Smith had a lengthy criminal history beginning at age 17 in 1992 that included charges of hit and run, family violence and other crimes in three counties.

Wynne ruled Smith must serve 13 years in prison, after which he would be on probation for 15 years. 

He ordered Smith to earn a GED, perform 240 hours of public service and pay numerous fines.

Randolf Smith
Randolf Smith - photo by Courtesy of the Newton County Sheriff's Office