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Investigation continues into Porterdale fatal wreck
Power pole, traffic signal down for several days on North Broad Street at East Palmetto Street

PORTERDALE, Ga. — Georgia State Patrol this week continued its investigation into a fatal wreck in which a Conyers man died after his vehicle struck a power pole as he fled from sheriff's deputies in downtown Porterdale early Friday.

Bruce Mitchell, 26, was killed in the one-vehicle crash on North Broad Street at East Palmetto Street in Porterdale early on Friday, June 17, said Sgt. First Class Michael Burns of the Georgia State Patrol.

The wreck also caused damage to a traffic signal and power lines in the downtown Porterdale area that further increased the vehicle congestion along the two-lane road.

Burns said the sheriff’s office contacted the GSP Friday, June 17, at 2:03 a.m. and asked the agency to investigate the incident.  

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

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.  

GSP was continuing its investigation this week, he said.

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

"Georgia Power teams responded earlier (Friday) 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.” 

Kraft said Georgia Power crews installed a new power pole and transferred electric wires “to expedite the overall effort.”

Temporary stop signs were placed at the intersection after the incident as city officials awaited the installation of a new traffic signal later this week.

City Manager Frank Etheridge said Monday, June 20, that a replacement traffic signal for the busy road — which is Georgia Hwy. 81 — was not expected to be operational until about Thursday, June 23.

He said GDOT likely will install several wooden poles and string traffic lights between them. Supply chain issues will delay the delivery of permanent traffic signal mast arms, he said. 

“The full mast replacement may take up to a year, as each mast is individually manufactured for a specific intersection,” Etheridge said. 

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