With tears slowly rolling down her face, Louise Simmons told news reporters how she lost her husband, Derryl Simmons, after the sanitation truck he was riding in flipped over several times and ejected him on Interstate 75.
“They (City of Atlanta) just don’t know how this tragedy has changed the lives of so many people in our family. We will never be the same without my Derryl,” said Simmons, who is employed with Atlanta’s Public Works Department. “My husband was a great man, a loving, caring and kind man. A brother, uncle is no longer with us because of this horrible tragedy. The city hasn’t given me any answers regarding this case. All we want is the truth. We deserve justice for my husband.”
Between the two of them, the Simmons have 51 years of service with the department.
On Nov. 2, 2013, Simmons’ husband, who worked for the department for 23 years, was killed when the garbage truck that he was the passenger in, flipped several times before ejecting him on Interstate 75 near Cleveland Avenue.
The driver, Melvin Callahan, who lost control of the city vehicle, was charged with homicide by vehicle in the first degree, driving under the influence, reckless driving and failure to maintain lane. vehicular homicide and driving under the influence. A half-empty bottle of Pinnacle vodka was found at the scene by investigators and lawyers from The Davis Bozeman law firm say Callahan’s alcohol blood level was more than three times the legal limit when he lost control of the vehicle. Derryl Simmons’ blood count was zero percent.
“Mr. Simmons was doing nothing wrong. He doesn’t choose the driver. All he can do is ride with the crew his supervisor tells him to go with. It’s the City of Atlanta’s responsibility to secure the safety of all employees,” said attorney Robert Bozeman. “It’s quite disturbing. How does the city allow a driver to drive a vehicle, to take other employees lives into their own hands and how does an employee believe that it is ok to be that drunk and drive a city vehicle?”
Police said Callahan was driving southbound on I-75 when he missed his exit and tried to change lanes quickly. Simmons died at the scene. Callahan was seriously injured and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
City of Atlanta Attorney Kathy Hampton said the city will release a statement concerning this accident in the next coming days and is currently conducting an internal investigation.
“Our own internal investigation will help us determine the appropriate course of action,” said Hampton. “The lawsuit may have been filed, but it hasn’t been served to us yet. When it comes across our desk, we can comment more and will release statements to the community.”
Bozeman said the City of Atlanta should receive the suit no later than Monday, June 30.