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Driver fleeing from Newton deputies loses life in wreck

PORTERDALE, Ga. — A Conyers man died early today after the vehicle he was driving struck a power pole as he fled from sheriff's deputies in downtown Porterdale.

Bruce Mitchell, 26, was killed in the one-vehicle crash on North Broad Street at East Palmetto Street in Porterdale, said Sgt. First Class Michael Burns of the Georgia State Patrol.

Burns said a preliminary investigation showed the driver was fleeing from Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputies before the wreck occurred.

He said the sheriff’s office contacted the GSP today, June 17, at 2:03 a.m. and requested it investigate the incident.  

Burns said as the driver attempted to negotiate a left-hand curve on North Broad Street, the vehicle left the roadway, struck an embankment and a light pole, and the driver was ejected. Mitchell was pronounced dead at the scene, Burns said.  

He added that the investigation was continuing.

A Georgia Power spokesman said no customer outages occurred despite concerns by some city officials about the light pole possibly falling on nearby lines and causing a major power outage. . 

"Georgia Power teams responded earlier today to inspect its facilities near the vehicle accident site,." said.spokesman John Kraft. 

"A traffic signal pole that does not belong to Georgia Power was severely damaged and was noted leaning into telecommunications wires," he said. "A nearby Georgia Power pole received some damage but cannot be removed until the broken traffic pole and other utilities’ attached wires are removed. 

"To expedite the overall effort, Georgia Power crews are setting a new power pole and transferring electric wires in the meantime," he said.

City Manager Frank Etheridge said Porterdale city officials awere awaiting word from GDOT about the traffic signal mast arm that was damaged in the incident.

The traffic signal on the busy road, which is Georgia Hwy. 81, will not be working for at least two days while the city also awaits action from GDOT to repair the mast arm, Etheridge said.

About 8,500 vehicles a day travel on Main Street in Porterdale, according to GDOT traffic counts.