Trucker's two children among five youths dead in ATV accident

| Monday, September 29, 2003

As trucker and volunteer firefighter David Varnedore answered a call about a car accident, he probably had a pretty good idea he was about to see a gruesome scene.

What he did not expect was that the scene included his own children.

After the call about the accident came in about 9:15 p.m. Sept. 20, the trucker hurried to the site about a mile from his home in Wray, GA, where an ATV and car had collided. There, he found the mangled bodies of five children – including his two oldest children, The Associated Press reported.

Dustin and Kayla Varnedore, ages 11 and 13, were among the six children riding the ATV, according to a statement from Georgia State Patrol. Also killed in the wreck were 14-year-old Coranne Megan Nelson, 13-year-old Lindsay Joyner and 10-year-old Courtney Arsenault. Heather Bass, 13, was critically injured and airlifted to Savannah Memorial Hospital.

The collision occurred when the six children were traveling south on Smith Cemetery Road while riding a Yamaha BearTracker four-wheeler being driven by Nelson. A 2000 Lincoln LS driven by 29-year-old Amanda Michelle Troupe crossed the centerline and struck the ATV head on.

Troupe and her two passengers – 27-year-old Jimmy Troupe and 24-year-old Jeffrey James – were injured in the accident. Their injuries were not serious.

Troupe has been charged with five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, driving under the influence (blood test pending), serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road, according to Gordy Wright, public information officer for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The crash remains under investigation by troopers at Post 36 in Douglas as well as the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team from Valdosta.

Varnedore told The AP that seeing the mangled bodies made him throw up. He said, “I won't even tell you what I saw.”

Varnedore and his wife have one other child, a 2-year-old who was not involved in the accident.

--by Rene Tankersley, feature editor

Rene Tankersley can be reached at renet@landlinemag.com.

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