By Joe Johnson
Two criminal suspects suffered only minor injuries early Wednesday morning when their van that police were pursuing crashed and plunged an estimated 75 feet to the bottom of a ravine in west Athens.
Police said that the men tried to use fake IDds and bank cards to make a purchase at the AT&T Store on Alps Road, and that when responding officers spotted the van that they were described to be in, they tried to stop it, but the van kept on going.
After turning onto Sycamore Drive, the van reportedly crashed through a dead-end and over an embankment, plunging down onto the banks of the Middle Oconee River.
Barrett’s Towing, the Athens wrecker service that removed the wrecked vehicle, gave this account on its Facebook page:
“This was one for the record books…
This vehicle drove through the dead end of Sycamore Dr, continued off-road for approximately 300ft, went off the former bridge structure over the Middle Oconee River, and plummeted down 75ft to the river's edge. We pulled the vehicle away from the river overnight and came back during daylight today to lift it over the former bridge’s trussell supports with 4x4 equipment. Only minor injuries were reported.”
The suspects who occupied the van were identified by police as Jonason Coreus, 34, of Buford and Tyrone Gillespie, 30, of Lithonia.
A search of the van found a Glock pistol and fraudulent debit cards, credit cards, and driver’s licenses, according to police.
Both men were charged with charged with multiple counts of Finanancial transaction card fraud, and Coreus was additionally charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony fleeing and eluding police, and obstruction, among other offenses.