Fatal Accident Rattles Georgia Governor Race

Democrat Roy Barnes, the former Georgia governor who is running for his old job again, has temporarily canceled all campaign events in the wake of a traffic accident that injured his daughter and two granddaughters over the weekend and killed the teenage driver who allegedly hit their minivan head-on.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Mario D. Zuniga Jr., the 17-year-old driver involved in the crash on Sunday afternoon, died Monday . Barnes' 35-year-old daughter, Allison Barnes Salter, and her 6- and 4-year-old daughters, Lilly and Ella, were injured in the accident, with Lilly Salter remaining in the hospital for surgery. A teenage passenger in Zuniga's car also went to the hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the AJC , Zuniga was arrested last month by police in Cobb County, Georgia, "after an officer smelled marijuana coming from the teenager's vehicle at a traffic stop." The teen spent several hours in a local jail before being released on bond, the paper says.

Both the Barnes campaign and the campaign of his opponent, Republican former congressman Nathan Deal, issued statements after the accident, amounting to a temporary ceasefire in a close race that has drawn national attention. But Barnes is vowing to return to the campaign trail promptly.

"Marie and I are so grateful for all your thoughts and prayers," the former governor says in a statement posted on his website . "Our prayers continue to be with the other families involved. I'm focusing on my family right now, but will be back on the trail tomorrow."

Stateline profiled Barnes in August .



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