A 35-year-old Ball Ground man was charged with vehicular homicide Friday stemming from hitting a cyclist on Feb. 1 on Ball Ground Highway near Commerce Lane.

According to court documents and information from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office:

Johnathan James Welch, 35, of Ball Ground has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, failure to exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle and failure to keep a safe distance from the bicycle he hit, killing the rider. All of the charges are misdemeanors.

Welch told investigators he looked down at the center console of his 2016 Jeep Renegade while driving at about 5:30 a.m. that day. When he looked up, he said he heard and felt that he had hit something.

The cyclist killed was 43-year-old Nathaniel Pool of Jasper. Welch called 911 and spoke with investigators at the scene at the time of the crash.

Welch turned himself in at the Cherokee County jail Friday and was released on $3,150 bond the same day.

Pool’s death was one of three involving motorists striking non-motorists recently.

On Feb. 3 Woodstock Police, in partnership with the Cherokee County Multi-Agency Crash Investigation Unit, arrested Tracy Lee Wilson, 47, of Ellijay, following an investigation into a fatal hit-and-run earlier that morning. Wilson is charged with felony hit-and-run with additional charges possibly pending.

Wilson is charged with fatally striking 18-year-old Sarahfina Okole with his Jeep. Investigators say he stopped, got out of the vehicle, looked at her body lying in the road and then got back into it and drove to his job in a nearby warehouse where he was later arrested.

Also, a pedestrian was killed Jan. 25 crossing Ga. Highway 92.

In that incident Donald Beacham, 64, of Acworth was struck by a vehicle while crossing Ga. Highway 92 at Robin Road at about 9:30 a.m.

“The motorist was traveling in the same direction as the pedestrian and when he turned left to travel west on Highway 92 he struck the pedestrian,” Cherokee Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said at the time.

Beacham was transported to WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center in Marietta with serious injuries. Beacham died from his injuries at Kennestone.

In that case, the driver, 63-year-old Kevin Orr of Acworth remained at the scene and cooperated with deputies. No charges have yet been filed in that case.

Also, a pedestrian died in Canton in November when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing Riverstone Parkway. In that case the pedestrian was not crossing in a crosswalk, police said. That investigation is ongoing as well.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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