A woman's death following a three-vehicle wreck Wednesday on Point Mallard Parkway occurred 36 days after another fatal wreck on the deadly stretch of highway and revived discussions of how to make it safer.
Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said Malloree Teague, 27, of Decatur, was pronounced dead at 12:08 p.m. Wednesday in the Decatur Morgan Hospital emergency room. He listed blunt force trauma as the cause of death. A man also was injured in the accident.
Teague was traveling southeast on the parkway (Alabama 67) in a red Dodge Challenger when it collided with a white Morgan County District 1 utility pickup traveling northwest at about 11:20 a.m., authorities said.
A third vehicle, a white Infiniti FX35, had damage to the driver side of the vehicle. It stopped about 30 yards northwest of the other two vehicles.
The wreck occurred just northwest of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
The driver of the county vehicle, District 1 mechanic Wayne Miller, suffered non-life-threatening injuries to his wrist and left ankle, said District 1 foreman and supervisor Carl Blankenship.
He said Miller had been working in the Priceville area and was heading northwest on Point Mallard Parkway to the District 1 shop on Central Parkway Southwest when the collision occurred.
City Council President Paige Bibbee said she was traveling on Point Mallard Parkway when the wreck occurred a short distance in front of her. “I called 911 and got out and tried to help,” she said.
Bibbee said the road was wet from an early morning rain and that could have been a factor in the accident. “I can’t say speed was the problem,” she said.
She said lowering the speed limit along that stretch of the parkway to 45 mph or even 40 mph could prevent accidents if police, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies patrol and issue citations to slow the traffic.
“If we don’t enforce it, lowering the speed limit won’t change drivers’ behavior,” she said. “I have asked that we have a meeting with (Alabama Department of Transportation) as soon as possible. The City Council may talk about this Monday night, but nobody on our council is an expert. ALDOT needs to help us decide what to do about it.”
Decatur Police spokeswoman Emily Long said, “The speed limit is 55 there, and that’s what we’re enforcing.”
She said police have increased traffic patrols on Point Mallard Parkway since the fatal accident in June, but any speed limit change would have to come from the council.
On June 25, according to Decatur police, Jonna McGuyre, 33, of Decatur, was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe southeast on Point Mallard Parkway when she lost control and hit two pickups and an SUV before colliding head-on with a Nissan Versa driven by 30-year-old Ramsey Williams, who was traveling northwest.
Williams, of Somerville, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Last month, McGuyre was charged with manslaughter. According to police, preliminary tests indicated she had drugs in her system at the time of the crash.
At least four deaths resulted from collisions on Point Mallard Parkway in 2018, authorities said.
ALDOT spokesman Seth Burkett said his office hasn’t seen details yet from Wednesday’s crash.
“It’s difficult to say anything without knowing specifics,” Burkett said.
He said making safety changes to that portion of Alabama 67 would need approval by wildlife refuge officials.
“The presence of the refuge being there poses significant hurdles for anything that would require widening of the roadway,” he added.
Based on a speed study last year, ALDOT recommended the city reduce the speed limit on Point Mallard Parkway between Sixth Avenue and Interstate 65 to 45 mph. That would lower the speed limit between Country Club Road and the Publix-anchored Point Mallard Centre from 55 to 45 mph.
Point Mallard Parkway is “heavily traveled and the speed limit is pretty moderate, and you’re going to have collisions there,” Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen said recently.
Sitting in snarled traffic due to the accident for more than 40 minutes Wednesday, Shirley Hartsfield of Decatur said she would support that stretch of road having a lowered speed limit.
“I try to always slow down driving through here,” she said. “But other people fly down this road. Reducing the speed limit would be a good idea. It’s a dangerous stretch through here.”
Hartsfield said she has been rear-ended twice in recent months. “I worry about the distracted drivers texting, and those who might even be on drugs,” she said.