Three Pierce County families are coping with the loss of loved ones following a fiery, two vehicle crash on Dean Still Road last week.
Cheryl “Sherry” Barnes, 51, Joseph Herman “Joey” Fennel, 62, and Cerriea “CJ” Matthew, 53, all of Blackshear, were killed in the 8:30 p.m. accident last Tuesday evening. The accident occurred on Dean Still Road near its intersection with Ayrin Brook Lane, just east of the Midway Church Road intersection.
According to the accident report by the Georgia State Patrol, Fennel was driving a 2017 Dodge Challenger west on Dean Still Road at a high rate of speed. Witnesses in vehicles near Fennel reported he was driving erratically and the GSP’s investigation found that the Challenger traveled on the shoulder of the road for 447 feet before crossing over the westbound lane and into the eastbound lane.
The Challenger then collided head-on with a 2010 Nissan Altima driven by Barnes.
After impact, the Challenger vaulted 61 feet overturning onto its right side and then onto its top for 72 feet before coming to rest in the eastbound lane and bursting into flame. The force of the impact was so great, the motor of the Challenger was separated from the chassis and thrown 246 feet from the point of impact.
The Altima was pushed back for 42 feet and came to rest on its left side in the south ditch of the road way.
Sheriff Ramsey Bennett described the scene as “awful.”
Witnesses also reported frantic, but futile attempts to rescue the occupants of the vehicles. All three reportedly died on impact.
Debris from the shattered vehicles littered both lanes of the roadway, a nearby residential yard and a neighboring cornfield. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and other rescue personnel could be observed scouring the rows of the cornfield with flashlights after the accident.
GSP Trooper Chris Williams of the Waycross post of the Georgia State Patrol conducted the investigation.
Family and friends of Barnes, Fennel and Matthew were left struggling with their sudden, tragic loss.
Barnes was the mother of two sons, Bryant and Taylor. She had reportedly been a caregiver for her parents, Harry and Darcile Roney. She had worked as a pharmacy technician and enjoyed Georgia Bulldogs football. She attended Remnant Church, but had also previously been of the Baptist and Roman Catholic faiths.
A visitation for Barnes was held Friday evening at Pearson-Dial Funeral Home.
Fennel and Matthew lived at the same residence and were reportedly in a relationship.
Fennel once owned and operated the Fennel’s Handy Mart on Georgia Highway 15/121 in Bristol. Fennel and his father, Herman, operated the service station, garage and restaurant there for about 15 years. Fennel most recently worked with Waycross Lawn and Service Center.
Fennel is remembered by his friends and family for his knack for fixing things and for his quick wit and kindness.
Friends recall Fennel as a “good man” who enjoyed “cutting up” and “being around people.”
A private memorial service for Fennel was held Friday morning at the Howard & Jones Funeral Home Chapel in Jesup. Fennel was a native of Wayne County.
Matthew was employed at Cracker Barrel in Waycross and also owned a decorating and housecleaning service.
Her co-workers at Cracker Barrel say Matthew was “a kind soul with a gentle spirit.”
She enjoyed dancing, singing, listening to music, collecting “what nots”, going to the beach and spending time with her family.
A memorial service for Matthew was held Sunday, at the Laura S. Walker State Park near Waycross.
For complete obituaries for Barnes, Fennel and Matthew, please see page 3.