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Crash claims veteran with local ties

POSTED: September 28, 2013 1:27 a.m.
 

A U.S. Army veteran and former Forsyth County high school student was found dead in a wrecked car Thursday night in metro Atlanta.

Randal Andrew Ackerman, 31, had been missing since early Tuesday morning.

The Georgia State Patrol received a call about 6 p.m. Thursday to investigate a crash at Johnson Ferry and Mill Creek roads near Brookhaven, according to state patrol officials.

Troopers found an overturned Ford Focus in a ditch with Ackerman inside. The date and time of the crash are not known.

Ackerman, a Sandy Springs resident, had last been seen about 2 a.m. Tuesday with friends at a bar in Buckhead.

Ackerman was a native of Forsyth County who attended both South and North Forsyth high schools.

Word of Ackerman’s disappearance spread quickly across social media, as people shared his photograph during the Atlanta Police Department’s missing person investigation.

On Friday, friends launched a Web site where people can make donations to support the family.

The site states: “Anyone who knew Andrew knew that he would be the first person to help when you needed it. He also dedicated over a decade of his life to serve his country and to fight for all of us.”

Carli Prillaman, who started the site, said she wanted to do whatever she could to ease the family’s burden in a difficult time.

Prillaman and Ackerman became friends while in high school — though they attended different ones — and stayed in touch into adulthood.

“He was always so much fun and always did everything he could for his friends and for other people,” she said. “He’s the type of person that if you needed him, he’d be the first person there if you were in trouble or anything.”

That nature led him to serve more than 10 years in the Army.

Prillaman said her sister also stayed in touch with him, often speaking with him while he was overseas.

Ackerman did two tours each in Afghanistan and Iraq, Prillaman said. He was honorably discharged in December.

Wherever he went, Ackerman made friends, she said, which was evident by the pouring of support and photos online.

“I think everybody’s still a little bit in shock. It definitely makes everyone feel better to see how loved he was,” she said. “Everyone loved Andrew.”

She added that his friends had planned a candlelight prayer service for Ackerman at the site of the accident Friday night.

 

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