Another week, another fatal vehicle crash in Athens


By Joe Johnson

An Athens man died Thursday night in the county’s sixth fatal motor vehicle crash in the first six weeks of 2021.

The incident was the third fatal crash on Tallassee Road in two weeks.

According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, 37-year-old Daniel Juanza Durnell of Merlin Drive was the sole occupant of a 1996 Buick Roadmaster that was traveling east on Tallassee Road at about 9:40 p.m., when the car left the roadway near Westchester Drive, struck a guardrail on the south shoulder then spun across the road when Durnell overcorrected, then crashed into a guardrail and a concrete bridge wall on the north shoulder with the car’s driver’s-side quarter panel.

The car then spun counterclockwise 90 degrees and came to an uncontrolled final rest in the middle of Tallassee Road, according to the police report, which noted that Durnell died at the scene.

The crash is under investigation by ACCPD’s Traffic Unit.

It was the third fatal crash on Tallassee Road in just over two weeks.

On the night of Jan. 24, 27-year-old Darius Levar Stanley of Hollow Ridge Drive was driving a car west on Tallassee Road, when police said he lost control of the vehicle near Chadd's Walk and crashed into a guardrail. He was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

On the morning of Feb. 7, 50-year-old Christopher Scottie Nix of Jefferson was killed when his Jeep Wrangler collided head-on with an oncoming Chevrolet Tahoe, driven by 39-year-old Juan Romero Garrido of Hanover Place in Athens, that crossed over into the Jeep’s lane.

Nix died at the scene. His wife, 45-year-old Missy, and son, 9-year-old Colton, were both taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to police.

The collision, which occurred on Tallassee Road, between Christa Lane and Ramble Hills Drive, remains under investigation.

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