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Driver charged in Hwy. 53 pileup
Three hurt in chain-reaction crash
WEB 53 wreck
This Chevrolet Avalanche was one of five vehicles involved in a chain-reaction crash Wednesday afternoon on Dawsonville Highway near Lake Lanier. - photo by Autumn McBride


A South Carolina man was charged with following too closely after a chain-reaction crash involving five vehicles Wednesday afternoon on Dawsonville Highway near the Forsyth-Hall County line.

The collision, which occurred about 2:45 p.m. at Dogwood Path by Lake Lanier, sent three people to area hospitals and shut down the highway for more than two hours, authorities said.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Cpl. David Garrison said the all vehicles involved were traveling east on Hwy. 53 toward Gainesville.

Garrison said the pileup began when a Nissan Quest minivan driven by Avrelio Zavala-Guzman, 50, of Forsyth County stopped to make a left turn onto Dogwood.

Two vehicles, a Ford Crown Victoria and a Honda CRV, were waiting behind the minivan when a Chevrolet Avalanche towing a trailer with a Ford Mustang on it came up around the hill.

“He hits the CRV, the CRV then hits the Crown Vic, the Crown Vic then hits the Nissan, so a nice, big chain reaction,” Garrison said.

The driver of the Avalanche, who Garrison identified as 56-year-old Rodney Ouzts of Pickens, S.C., did not receive medical treatment.

But Garrison said Ouzts passenger, 33-year-old Brandon Henry, also of Pickens, was flown to Atlanta Medical Center, where he is in stable condition.

Also injured were Avrelio and Dahlonega resident Amanda Dunn, 30, who Garrison said was driving the Ford Crown Victoria.

He said Avrelio and Dunn were both in stable condition at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

There were two people in the Honda, neither of whom received medical treatment at the scene.

A fifth vehicle, the Mustang on the trailer the Avalanche was pulling, went off the road on the south side of Ga. 53, and stopped down the embankment, along with the Avalanche.

“He had just bought the Mustang,” Garrison said of Ouzts. “He was taking it back home to South Carolina.”

Forsyth County fire, EMS and sheriff’s office personnel responded to the incident, as did Hall County’s fire department and sheriff’s office.

“It is very helpful in these kinds of incidents to have units respond from both directions,” said Forsyth County Fire Cpt. Jason Shivers. “We do that for them and they do it for us often.”