Family seeks closure in hit-and-run death a year later
by Jessica Loeding
Jan 15, 2014 | 4256 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Seeking Closure
Christina Warner was killed in a hit-and-run on Jan. 15, 2013, near this location close to Mac Johnson Road and U.S. Highway 41. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Elissa Cochran marked the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s death in the first minutes of today at the site of the hit-and-run accident.

Christina Warner, 27, was struck and killed just after midnight Jan. 15, 2013, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and Mac Johnson Road. The Georgia State Patrol said at the time that a dark blue sedan was suspected in the incident, but as of Tuesday, no arrests have been made.

The mother of two had been at Cochran’s house 1.3 miles from the intersection that night, and how Warner came to be at the scene remains a mystery.

“Everybody had gone to bed. My youngest son was sitting here — it was getting a little late that night — and, at the time, we would go outside to smoke. And he said she went to the door and kind of had her hand on the door handle, and him and her talked to each other, they laughed, cut up about whatever it was they were talking about, and he said she just laughed and she went out the door. He just assumed she was going to smoke a cigarette,” Cochran said. “Well, he had went on to bed. The next thing we know we’re getting woke up about 4 o’clock in the morning by the coroner and a police officer.

“It had been raining for four days. She was in house shoes. Nothing about it makes sense. We don’t know why she left. ... She left walking, either walked or at some point was picked up or something.”

Warner, who had been home about a month, spent three years in the U.S. Army before being medically discharged. Although Cochran said her daughter suffered from depression, there was nothing in her actions that night to cause concern.

“It was unusual for her ... It was like she wasn’t intending to go walking,” Cochran said.

Coroner Joel Guyton said Warner’s autopsy showed no signs of alcohol or drugs.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to “her entire body,” Guyton said, adding that authorities were unable to determine if Warner was struck more than once.

“I kind of do [think she was picked up] in a sense just because, like I said, it doesn’t make sense. If you know you’re going to go walking, why you got on house shoes and the roads were soaking wet? ... She was either picked up or, I feel like, ran into somebody. I just feel like something went wrong somewhere, and I feel like it was intentional,” Cochran said.

Last week Cochran followed up with the GSP investigator working the case, who said there had been no new information in the case since their last contact in late summer.

“... The investigator told me there’s at least two cars they had towed in to be checked out from tips, you know, calling in. Nothing ever came of it; they didn’t find anything,” Cochran said. “He has told me in the beginning that he felt like she was already down when she was hit because there was no debris from a car, but to me, it’s just there’s nothing to that as far as I can see. My daughter wasn’t but 4 foot 9, 100 pounds. She’s not going to tear up a car, you know?”

According to Cochran, conflicting reports concerning video evidence and witness statements have led to confusion.

“At this point, I don’t know what to believe. With it being an open investigation, I’m not even sure, I know there is stuff they’re going to keep from me. I just don’t understand,” she said.

A GSP spokesperson declined to provide a copy of the report or provide further information.

“This is still an open investigation. The trooper has not located the hit-and-run driver,” the spokesperson said via email.

“He promised me it wasn’t going to be closed until somebody was found,” Cochran said of the investigator.

In 2013, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 14 crashes where pedestrians were struck by vehicles in Bartow County. Cartersville Police Department Capt. Mark Camp said the agency worked 15 accidents in 2013 involving pedestrians.

“We had 15 injuries and two fatalities as a result. The injuries were not just to the pedestrians. However, the two fatalities were the pedestrians,” Camp said. “There was no one place where most occurred. They were spread throughout the city.”

Describing her daughter as “smart” and “the light of the room,” Cochran urged anyone with information to come forward.

“Tell somebody. ... We need closure. Her kids need closure,” she said. “It’s not going to bring her back and it’s not going to heal our hearts, but to know that this person is caught would, that would mean a lot.”

Anyone with information on the hit-and-run death of Christina Warner is asked to call the GSP at 770-387-4056 or a reward line at 404-577-8477.