St. Augustine’s University honor student Matthew Mangram packed his Nissan Sentra overnight Sunday and headed to his hometown nearly 400 miles away in southeast Georgia to visit his ailing grandmother.
Mangram, a junior criminal justice major and starting offensive lineman with the school’s football team, was about five minutes from home in Darien, Ga., when his car crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a Ford Explorer just before 7:45 a.m. Monday.
Mangram was pronounced dead at the scene, said Sgt. Robert Balkcom, a trooper with the Georgia State Highway Patrol.
Balkcom, who investigated the crash, said the accident occurred on U.S. 17 in North Darien, in front of a McIntosh County emergency medical services and fire station complex.
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He said Mangram’s Nissan was traveling south when he pulled into the northbound lanes to pass another vehicle in front of him.
“There were a couple of cars in front of him,” Balkcom said. “A deputy sheriff heard the accident, looked into his rear-view mirror and saw all the debris.”
Two people in the other vehicle, Becky Davis and her daughter Lauren, were seriously injured. They were taken to Southeast Georgia Health System in nearby Brunswick and then transferred to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Balkcom said.
McIntosh County sheriff’s investigators say Davis was taking her daughter to school in a Ford Explorer Sport Track when Mangram’s Nissan Sentra crossed into her path.
Balkcom said “significant” speed was not a factor and neither were road conditions, despite the rain. Nor did it appear that Mangram was driving recklessly.
“It’s a long, straight road,” Balkcom said. “You can see up ahead four or five miles. It was raining, but everybody appears to have had their headlights on. He was just in the wrong lane, at the wrong time.”
St. Augustine’s athletics director George Williams described Mangram as a young man who excelled both on and off the football field.
“It is always hard and difficult to lose a family member,” Williams said in a statement. “But to lose a young man in the prime of his life like Matthew, who was an honor student and starter on the football team, is almost unspeakable.”
Mangram worked part-time as a jailer with the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office while on summer breaks, said Danny Lowe, commander of the criminal investigation division.
A spokeswoman said the sheriff’s staff “was pretty upset” about the accident.
Balkcom said one of Mangram’s aunts showed up at the accident site and told him Mangram was coming home to visit his grandmother, who is very ill.
“Everybody talked about what a good kid he was,” he said. “It’s just a shame.”
St. Aug’s held a memorial service for Mangram on Monday afternoon in the campus chapel.