Grieving mother demands change after daughter killed by tree

Author: Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 04 2013 09:55:59 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 05 2013 12:10:39 AM EST
Kaleigh Miller's family
BRUNSWICK, Ga. -

Channel 4 is investigating who owns the land where a deadly tree fell, killing 22-year-old Kaleigh Miller and her best friend, 23-year-old Ashley Akra, last week. 

The two young women were riding down Blythe Island Highway the day before Thanksgiving when a tree fell on top of the car the women were in.

A Glynn County engineer told Channel 4 Wednesday night that the Department of Transportation is in charge of the 300 feet of the right of way off the road. According to the county, the tree that fell on Miller and Akra was within 20 feet of it.

“It angers me. If this tree were on my property like this and it hit someone and killed them, I would be responsible,” said Kaleigh’s mother, Carla Miller. 

Channel 4 went to Brunswick Wednesday afternoon and found DOT crews at the site of the accident, looking at the trees in the area. Channel 4 reached out to the Georgia Department of Transportation Wednesday. They did not answer any questions, but provided this statement:

We are reviewing our right-of-way records to confirm that it was on our property. Until that is complete, we must defer any further comment. Our deepest condolences goes out to the families of the two young women in this tragic accident.

Channel 4 asked Glynn County Commissioner Mary Hunt if the tree belongs to the county or the Department of Transportation.

“By our records, and from what the county has checked out, it belongs to Georgia DOT, so unfortunately it is DOT’s responsibility,” said Hunt. 

“That’s politics to me, I don’t care," said Carla. "I care about my 22-year-old daughter who is dead. Her 23-year-old best friend who was always at my house is dead. Don’t give me politics.”

Carla is demanding that someone fix the problem before anyone else gets hurt.

“They are blaming this one and blaming that one," Carla said. "I don’t care who is at fault. Until it’s their baby that is dead, don’t tell me it’s a freak accident. If it happened once, it don’t need to happen once, but something needs to be done. There is more than one tree in here that is rotten. You need to know your property better than that. They expect me to know if I have one tree that’s rotten.”

Hunt told Channel 4 that the Glynn County Commission will take up the rotting tree issues at the next commission meeting and will be looking at possible solutions to the problem.