Fatal I-75 Accident Shuts down Northbound Lanes

| November 15, 2015


VALDOSTA — An multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 75 Friday night resulted in the loss of life, forcing closure of multiple lanes for some time.

Georgia State Patrol Troopers responded to a multi-vehicle crash on I-75 northbound at mile marker 6 in Lowndes County, north of the Loch Laurel Road bridge.

A red 1989 Cadillac sedan driven by James Lowell Baker, 88 from Springfield, Missouri, was traveling north on I-75.  The car became disabled in the middle northbound lane. Worse, the vehicle was stopped the vehicle in the middle lane with no working lights.

Baker got out of his vehicle and attempted walk to the shoulder of the Interstate.  At the same time, a green 2003 Mitsubishi Galant driven by 64 year old Robert Lee Laster, 64 from Pinellas Park, Florida, was also traveling north on I-75 in the right lane. Laster’s car struck Baker, then came to a stop on the east shoulder of the roadway.

As Baker’s car was still disabled in the middle of the road, a white 2015 Ford F-250, pulling a 30 foot enclosed box trailer, driven by Harold Dean Millis, 64 of Ruskin, Florida was also traveling north on I-75 in the middle lane. Millis swerved in an attempt to avoid striking Baker’s Cadillac, causing the trailer of the Ford to hit Baker’s car on the passenger side rear end.  This caused Baker’s car to rotate slightly in the roadway.  Millis’ truck and trailer then came to rest in the right lane of I-75 just north of Baker’s car.

Another vehicle, a white 2000 Dodge Ram Van driven by Eric Donald Rase, 56 of Lansing, Michigan also struck the Cadillac with the front end of that vehicle causing the Baker’s Cadillac to travel into the left lane facing west. The impact of that accident moved Rase’s vehicle into the right lane, striking Millis’ disabled trailer before coming to rest in the right lane.

Baker was pronounced dead on scene. Rase sustained an injury to his leg. A passenger Laster’s car, identified as Shelley Tukes, 54 of St. Petersburg, Florida sustained injuries to her face from broken glass.

All three lanes of I-75 were closed from approximately about 3 hours. Troopers do not suspect alcohol or drugs as a contributing factor in this crash. No charges will be filed in this crash, according to the Georgia State Patrol report.

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