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GA police: Driver was DUI in crash that killed 91-year-old veteran

Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Owens, command sergeant major of the 200th Military Police Command, discusses upcoming changes to the facility grounds at the Cobb County Department of Public Safety in Marietta, Georgia, Dec. 3, 2018. Owens is a sworn police officer in the state of Georgia. He started his Police career in 1989. Owens is currently a commander with the Cobb County Police Department. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Taylor)

A Roswell man admitted to officers he’d had three beers before being involved in a crash that killed a 91-year-old man, and both breath and blood tests confirmed that John James Hamm was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, according to Cobb County police.

The fatal February crash remained under investigation until this week, when Hamm was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, DUI and reckless driving, his arrest warrant states.

According to investigators and witnesses, Hamm was driving a 2006 Infiniti G35 northbound on Sandy Plains Road shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23. He was seen weaving and speeding, witnesses told police.

“Speed calculations prior to the collision put the vehicle traveling at 70 mph or more,” Hamm’s arrest warrant states. “Witnesses stated he was tailgating and traveling 65 mph, and never applied the brakes prior to impact.”

As Hamm approached the intersection with Davis Road, the driver of a 1999 Mazda B3000 pickup truck attempted to turn in front of him, according to police. Hamm struck the truck, driven by Giovanni “John” Spadafora of Marietta.

“John Spadafora was transported from the scene by ambulance but later died from his injuries incurred during this collision,” Hamm’s warrant states.

At the scene, Hamm submitted to a breath test, in which his alcohol level was recorded at .212, according to police. A search warrant was later executed and Hamm’s blood and urine samples were taken, his warrant states. His blood-alcohol level was measured at .204. A BAC of .08 is the legal limit for Georgia drivers.

Hamm was not in custody Friday, according to Cobb jail records.

Spadafora was a great-grandfather and veteran of both the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army, according to his online obituary.

“He was a true patriot who loved our country and all it stands for,” the obituary states.

Spadafora was buried in his native New York with military honors.


© 2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution