HOMERVILLE -- Grief overflows in this small, close-knit community after a horrific crash claimed the lives of two small children and a man Tuesday night.

Jim McLaine, 37, his daughter Macy, 5, and Brance Register, 2, died after the truck they were riding in was struck from behind by a semi truck around 6 p.m. on Highway 441 South.

McLaine, driving a 1999 Ford F150 truck with the lights and flashers on, was following Brad Register of Homerville, who was driving a back hoe, said Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ray Strickland.

Fire erupted from a fuel leak after the collision, burning much of the diesel from the truck. Traffic on Highway 441 was blocked both ways for nearly six hours as crews worked to clear the scene, Strickland said.

Also riding in the truck was Brennan Register. Brad and Brennan were transported to Clinch Memorial Hospital, where Brennan remained overnight. Brad was transported to South Georgia Medical Center, where he underwent surgery Wednesday. He is listed in fair condition.

Johnny Moody, 45, Denton, Ga., was driving the 1995 Freightliner owned by Kight's Trucking of Hazelhurst. Moody left the scene, and police Lt. George Blankenship found him around 11 p.m. walking in downtown Homerville, Strickland reported.

The Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Reconstruction Team, Reidsville, mapped the scene Wednesday. Charges have not been filed pending results of blood tests that were sent to the Crime Lab in Moultrie and the completion of the investigation by SCRT, Strickland said.

Students arriving at Clinch County Primary and Elementary School found administrators, faculty and staff waiting to answer questions.

Nan Mikell, principal of the Primary School, said they attempted to have as normal a day as possible.

"We had an entire room full of people, counselors, RNs, local ministers, teachers and others who handled cases as they came up," Mikell said. "We had spent a lot of time in Macy's kindergarten class."

The principal praised students and staff for how they handled a sad time.

"I am proud of the faculty and staff who helped each other today," Mikell said. "We really worked hard to keep it a normal day under the circumstances."

Mildred Stovall, principal of the Elementary School, said the accident has touched many lives in Homerville. But the community is rallying around the families.

"In times like this, we are so blessed to be part of this community," Stovall said. "We may not be perfect, but it's unbelievable how caring the people are."

To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.

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