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Sims St. residents seek speed controls after racing death

By Sherri Ellington After a fatal accident on Sims Street that killed Johnathan Maurice Byrd, 29, as he pulled into the path of two drag-racing Cutlasses, a petition to put speeding controls in place was handed over to Barnesville city council. David Byrd, who lives on Sims, presented the document at the May 6 city council meeting. It was signed by 22 area residents including some from Owens Street, from which Johnathan Byrd was pulling out, and Forsyth Street. ’We live where the accident was a few weeks ago,’ said David Byrd. ‘We want something to slow people down on that road. We can’t let our children play in our front yards.’ He said drivers regularly go 60 to 75 miles per hour down Sims, which turns into Johnstonville Road and leads to I-75. He offered his driveway as a spot for police patrols to run radar. Mayor Peter Banks said speed bumps cannot be installed. He cited the need for emergency vehicles to use the road as well as its status as a corridor to the interstate. ’We know how tragic the accident was,’ said Mayor Banks. ‘We’ll probably take it up at our retreat. We have a number of issues and this is one of them.’ Any decision made will be done in an open meeting, he added. ’Stop signs will work,’ said Byrd about the curvy, .8 mile stretch of road that has a 35 mile per hour limit. In the meantime, police presence on Sims Street will be stepped up. On March 15, Johnathan Byrd was killed and six others injured when cousins Vontae Tyris Collier, 20, and Taurean Collier, 30, were racing neck and neck on Sims. Both were driving Oldsmobile Cutlasses. Vontae Collier’s beige Cutlass was on the wrong side of the road. Taurean Collier’s white Cutlass was in the right lane. Byrd was driving a black Cutlass, which was hit broadside by both racing vehicles. He died at the scene. No one was wearing seat belts.

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