17 pedestrians died on Bibb County roads in 2021. How long did they wait for help?


Henry Ficklin, Special to The Macon Newsroom

A man who was hit by a car on Gray Highway was lying in the road for about 25 minutes as he waited for an ambulance, patrol car and fire truck for help.

On the way back from a church meeting one recent Sunday, Henry Ficklin found himself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Gray Highway.

After idling for some time, he broke from the queue of cars and rolled into a parking lot to park and eat a plate of baked chicken he got from church.

When he finished eating – roughly 25 minutes later – traffic was still inching along and Ficklin said he began to wonder what was causing the gridlock.

Soon, he saw for himself.

“There was a man that was laying out in the street that had been hit by a car,” Ficklin, Macon-Bibb County’s director of community affairs, said to fellow board members at the March meeting of the county’s Pedestrian Safety Review Board. “I see how some people die because it takes (ambulances) so long to get there.”

While the man survived, the long response time for emergency services raised questions for Ficklin. Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said he also fielded several calls about the delayed ambulance response.

An analysis of 17 reports involving pedestrian deaths in 2021 showed the average time from the 911 call to the deputy’s arrival was 9 minutes and 30 seconds. However, several response times neared or exceeded 20 minutes.

Gin Hau Thang, a 43-year-old who was hit by a car killed on Ga. 247 the night of Nov. 9, it took a total of 25 minutes for a deputy to arrive from the time the 911 call was made.

When Broderick J. “Pee Wee” Linder was hit by a car near the intersection of Gray Highway and Shurling Drive on the night of Dec. 17, multiple people called 911. It took a total of 18 minutes for a deputy to arrive.

Details about the March 13 crash involving the pedestrian remain unclear as the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office’s Open Records unit said it does not have a report for it.

Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley writes about public safety, health and education for The Macon Newsroom. To contact her, email [email protected] or call 478-301-5777.