17-year-old charged with vehicular homicide
by Wes Mayer
A Newnan teen has been charged with vehicular homicide, according to state authorities.
Joseph Brian Shelnutt, 17, was charged Friday. On Sep. 21, Shelnutt was driving a 1990 Toyota 4Runner south on Smokey Road, according to Tracy Watson, public information officer with the state Department of Public Safety. Austin Walker Pope, 16, was also sitting in the front passenger’s seat, and both Braxton Kexavior Tucker, 17, and Andrew Daryl Mask, 17, were in the back seat. Around 3 a.m., near Country Lane, the vehicle began swerving across the road, causing it to flip numerous times.
Authorities with the Georgia State Patrol determined the vehicle was swerving between lanes and ran off both sides of the road prior to the crash. According to Watson, while traveling southbound, the vehicle first traveled into the oncoming lane, then overcorrected and ran off the right side of the road — it then swerved back across the road and ran off the left side, corrected into the middle of the road and ran off the left side of the road a second time. When the vehicle corrected back onto the road, it rotated clockwise and overturned several times, ejecting both Pope and Shelnutt.
Shelnutt, Tucker and Mask were injured, and Pope died. The three injured were transported to the Atlanta Medical Center.
According to Watson, Georgia State Patrol authorities waited until the completion of its Special Collision Reconstruction Team’s investigation and for toxicology report results before pressing charges.
On Friday, Shelnutt was charged with vehicular homicide in the first degree, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence while under 21 years of age, reckless driving, seat belt violations, possession of alcoholic beverages, failure to maintain lane and laying drags. Tucker and Mask were both charged with possession of an alcoholic beverage.