The man charged with striking and killing a Cobb County crossing guard with his car as she directed traffic outside of Lindley Middle School last November pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday.
Lamonte Roosevelt Whitaker, of Lithonia, is charged with first degree homicide by vehicle and reckless driving in the death of 64-year-old Mableton resident Edna Umeh.
Police say Umeh was directing traffic in the center lane of Veterans Memorial Highway the morning of Nov. 30 when Roosevelt sped around a line of cars that had slowed down.
Witnesses at the scene said Umeh attempted to stop Roosevelt’s red Ford Focus when she was struck and killed.
Sakinah Anderson, a Mableton resident who was driving her Pepsi delivery van in the opposite direction, said Roosevelt swerved into the center turn lane to pass the cars in front of him when he struck Umeh.
“Everyone else was going slow, and he came speeding down the lane,” Anderson said. “He was dodging cars and swerving all through traffic when he hit her … I’m still in shock.”
She said the impact from the collision knocked the crossing guard into the air and about 200 feet down the highway, killing her immediately. She called it the saddest, most gruesome thing she had ever seen.
Roosevelt’s car was so badly damaged in the collision that he had to be cut out of it.
Witnesses estimated he was driving about 60 mph through the turn lane. The posted speed limit during school zone hours is 25 mph. According to his arrest warrant, police determined the Ford was still traveling 46 mph through the turn lane after impact. He brought the vehicle to a stop in the eastbound lanes of the highway, nearly 200 feet past where he struck the crossing guard.
The school district said Umeh worked as a crossing guard four years at Lindley and nearby Pebblebrook High and Harmony-Leland Elementary schools. She had grandchildren enrolled at the schools where she worked.
A motions hearing in the case was originally scheduled for Friday but a spokesperson for the Cobb District Attorney’s office said the hearing would likely be postponed.
Whitaker remains held without bond at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, jail records show.
Lamonte Roosevelt Whitaker,