Crash victim remembered for his love of life, people

by Clay Neely


“He was an individual who felt that every second of life was a gift and was not to be wasted,” said Matt Lanza, a lifelong friend of Billy Dedrick. 

Billy Dedrick, a popular emergency room nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, died Saturday as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

Around 10:30 p.m., the Georgia State Patrol and Coweta emergency personnel responded to the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 16 East and Clearwater Lake Road in reference to a motor vehicle accident, according to Deputy Chief Todd Moore with the Coweta County Fire Department.

When authorities arrived they found that Dedrick’s motorcycle had collided with a van. Dedrick was transported to Piedmont Hospital and later died as a result of his injuries.

The female driver of the passenger vehicle was transported by ground ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center due to her injuries and potential for the need of advanced trauma care.

According to GSP Trooper Jordan Ennis, Dedrick’s motorcycle was traveling eastbound on Hwy. 16 toward Senoia when the van made a left turn out of Clearwater Lake Road onto Hwy. 16 to travel west. However, Ennis noted that there have been several conflicting eyewitness reports of the accident and the case is still under investigation.

While Dedrick’s death has devastated those who knew him, it has also shown the far-reaching impact that his life had on those he encountered, regardless of the amount of time he spent with them.

According to those who knew him best, it was his dedication to both preserving and living life that made him such a unique individual.

As one of his oldest friends, Lt. Matt Lanza from the Fayette County Fire Department recalled Dedrick’s generous and free spirited nature that endeared him to those who knew him.

Lanza first met Dedrick in 2001 at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville. Lanza was surprised to see this long-haired, goateed individual teaching Sunday school. Initially, he thought Dedrick was someone much older than himself but soon discovered they were the same age. From that point on, they were inseparable.

“Everything he had, he worked extremely hard for and was a great example to people that if you really want something, you have to work for it,” Lanza recalled. “When it came to his faith, he could recite things from the Bible with such ease, it was uncanny – he had that kind of memory.”

While Dedrick's determined spirit was unwavering, so was his generosity toward both his friends and strangers. His decision to join the Clayton County Fire Department in 2006 was rooted in his love for helping others in crisis and ultimately inspired Lanza to do the same – joining the fire department in LaGrange only one year later.

When Dedrick decided to attend medical school, Lanza wasn’t surprised.

“He always enjoyed helping people but began to feel a call toward nursing,” he said. “Billy liked helping people and wanted to go even further. He was so smart, he could have done anything he wanted. He had the mind and the heart.”

Those who worked alongside Dedrick echoed Lanza’s sentiments. Michael Robertson, CEO of Piedmont Newnan, recalled Dedrick’s smile, sense of humor and incredible work ethic – always willing to pitch in to help his co-workers, no matter what. “Caring for people in emergency situations is serious and hard work, but somehow, Billy always managed to lift everyone’s spirits,” said Michael Zimmermann, Piedmont Newnan’s senior director of emergency services. “He just loved to make people laugh. He’s the type of nurse you didn’t forget. His patients absolutely loved him.”

Joanna Berry, an ED nurse at Piedmont Newnan, recalled Dedrick’s friendly and outgoing disposition – harnessing the ability to turn someone’s bad day upside down.

“We knew, when he worked, we were going to at least have a laugh at work, despite the seriousness of our jobs,” Berry said.

From lifelong friends, co-workers and to those who knew him only briefly, Dedrick’s desire for helping those in need was paralleled only by his own zest for life – living each day to its fullest on an endless adventure to discover all the fun and joy that life had to offer.

Traveling, mountain biking, trail running, and snowboarding were all activities that Lanza and Dedrick enjoyed together. According to Lanza, he was an individual who felt that every second of life was a gift and was not to be wasted.

“No matter what was going on, he could always find something fun to do,” Lanza said. “He lived more in his 29 years than most people could fit into two lifetimes.”

Lanza recalled when Dedrick confided in him that he felt he wouldn’t live to an old age. But because of his unwavering faith in God, he wasn’t afraid since he knew he would be going to heaven.

“He often told us not to cry if he ever died because he would come back to haunt us if we did,” Lanza said. “That’s really sums up his sense of humor and overall outlook on life. Simply put, Billy just loved everybody and he knew how to live a life better than anyone I’ve ever met.”

* * *

The memorial service for Billy Dedrick is Thursday, Aug. 7, at 4 p.m. at McKoon Funeral Home, 38 Jackson St., Newnan.

Because Billy Dedrick did not have life or health insurance, a “PayForward” donation page has been set up to cover medical and funeral costs. To donate, visit:

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