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Tragic wrecks claim coffee shop proprietor; injure engaged firefighters

Recent traffic accidents in neighboring counties claimed the life of an Orchard Hill business leader and badly injured a firefighting couple who were to be married this fall.

Marie Thompson Sanders, the beloved driving force behind the thriving Black Smoke Coffee operation in Orchard Hill, died early July 11 in a crash very near her business.

Sanders, 45, was southbound on Green Valley Road in a Sprinter van when the driver of a northbound Ford F-150 pickup crossed the center line and hit the van head-on, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Thompson died at the scene. The driver of the truck was not immediately identified. The GSP’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is working the wreck.

A celebration of Sanders’ life will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Rock Springs Church.

On Saturday, firefighters Logan Gordy and Krista Cheeks of the Rock Hill Fire Department in The Rock, were responding in a fire engine to an accident on Rocky Bottom Road in Upson County when the driver lost control in a curve on Mud Bridge Road.

The fire engine overturned and both Gordy and Cheeks, who were engaged, were ejected. Two air life helicopters arrived and flew the couple to the Grady trauma center in Atlanta with very serious injuries.

First responders and others are planning a benefit ride to assist with medical costs for the pair. The ride will begin at the Rock Hill Fire Station and travel to Warm Springs. The times had not been set at press time Monday.

Contact the fire department or Haylie Marie Stephens on social media for more information.

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