VALDOSTA -- A Valdosta woman was killed and another woman injured when the vehicle they were riding in left the road and struck a tree early Sunday morning. There are questions concerning an event that happened before the accident that may be linked to the accident.

Zarzar Clay, 21, of Valdosta was killed when her 1995 red Mazda 626 hit a tree at the intersection of North Toombs Street and West North Street at about 3:46 a.m.

Clay was traveling north on North Toombs Street when her vehicle moved right and left the roadway. After leaving the roadway, the vehicle struck a tree located on the southwest corner of a building, causing the death of Clay and injuries to the passenger, Debbie, Huggie, 22, 200 block W. Mary St., according to an accident report by the Valdosta Police Department.

Huggie was treated and released from South Georgia Medical Center, hospital officials said.

An investigation as to the vehicle's movement and the events preceding the accident is under way. Witnesses at the scene told the investigating officers that no other vehicle was involved.

Lowndes County Coroner Charles Exum was notified about the accident at about 3:49 a.m. and said there were Valdosta police investigators and traffic division officers at the scene. Fire department personnel were also at the scene and used the "Jaws of Life" to extract Clay from her vehicle.

Exum was told that Clay had been in an altercation at a club yet to be identified prior to the accident.

She was reportedly struck on the head with a beer bottle during an altercation at a local club, according to Exum.

Instead of waiting for an ambulance, Clay chose to drive to the hospital, Exum said. She was approximately four blocks from the club when she became unresponsive and left the road, he said.

Due to the early morning hours, Exum had her transported to the morgue at SGMC for security purposes, he said. At daylight, Exum called the Moultrie Crime Lab and explained the problem.

"An autopsy was requested by the Moultrie Crime Lab, and it was refused by the medical examiner," Exum said.

Exum said he has discussed the seriousness of the matter with the local district attorney.

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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