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25 June 2007
Georgia High School Basketball Coach Dies
in Car Accident Sunday Near Oxford

OXFORD - An assistant basketball coach at North Oconee High School was killed and at least three North Oconee students injured in a multi-vehicle wreck Sunday evening in Oxford, Alabama. Shawn Smith, the head junior varsity basketball coach at the high school, was killed when the Honda Accord he was driving was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer, according to Calhoun County, Alabama coroner Pat Brown. Three North Oconee students, Andrew Landers, David Firth and Ja'Rius Ross were passengers in the car and were injured; however, the extent of those injuries were not known at press time.

All three were transported to Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center, a spokeswoman there confirmed Sunday, but the hospital would not release their conditions. Landers was en route to Grady Memorial Hospital via life flight at 10:20 p.m. Sunday, a Grady spokeswoman confirmed.

“Jacksonville State University is deeply saddened by the tragic car accident that claimed the life of Mr. Shawn Smith. The faculty, staff and students at Jacksonville State are supporting the entire North Oconee High School family with healing thoughts and prayers,” said Dr. William A. Meehan, president of Jacksonville State. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the Smith family and to the North Oconee community.”

"The crash occurred at about 5 p.m. on I-20 in Oxford," Brown said, "about 12 miles from Jacksonville State University where the North Oconee basketball team was attending a summer camp. The tractor-trailer driving in the west-bound lane apparently crossed the median into the east-bound lane and struck the car head-on," Brown said. He did not know the name of the driver, but confirmed he was transported to Stringfellow Memorial Hospital with injuries.

Jacksonville State Troopers were investigating the wreck Sunday but would not release details as of press time.

A dozen or so people were gathered at the high school on Sunday evening. Assistant school superintendent Randy Morrison said school officials were still confirming information and likely would comment Monday.


North Oconee High School is a public high school with grades 9-11 and an enrollment of 748 students last year and a projected enrollment of 800 this year. It is located in Bogart, Georgia, in Oconee County and is adjacent to Athens. It is approximately 1 1/2 hours from Atlanta. It is an urban/suburban community of more the 22,000 people.

See related article appearing in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution updating the status of the students who were passengers.


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