Seriously injured Good Samaritan pedestrian helps identify hit-and-run driver

Detail of Cobb County Police Department STEP Unit vehicle in article about fatal accident on I-75

According to a public information release from Officer Aaron Wilson of the Cobb County Police Department, the department’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (S.T.E.P. Unit) is investigating a hit-and-run accident in south Cobb.

The incident resulted in serious injury to a Good Samaritan pedestrian, Keith D. Paine, 53, Austell, who was aiding a driver of a disabled vehicle when he was struck. The driver Paine was aiding also suffered severe injuries.

The incident occurred yesterday, Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at around 11:26 p.m. near 2135 Cardell Road. 

The public information release describes the run-up to the incident as follows:

“Preliminary information from the investigation indicates that a white 2005 Honda Accord, operated by Deborah K. Wright (63, Austell), had stopped in the southbound lane of Cardell Road due to vehicle-related issues.”

“At the time of the incident, Ms. Wright was seated in the driver’s seat, with the driver’s door ajar and her legs extended outside the vehicle. A good Samaritan, Keith D. Paine (53, Austell), resided near the incident and came to assist Ms. Wright.”

The driver of a Lexus struck the Honda, seriously injuring Paine, and drove away.

With information provided by the injured pedestrian, an arrest has been made in the incident. The suspect is a 43-year-old Austell man, who was booked into the Cobb County Adult Detention Center.

Paine was taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital for treatment, and Wright was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital.

[The Cobb County Courier has a policy of withholding or redacting the name of suspects unless and until the person is convicted in a court of law or enters a plea of guilty. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty, and the internet has no effective way of removing reports of arrest if the person is exonerated. We do make exceptions in high-profile cases or charges against public officials where exoneration is likely to be as widely publicized as the initial arrest]

The STEP Unit

In articles about fatal or serious injury accidents you’ll often see references to the Cobb County STEP Unit.

The STEP Unit, which investigates serious or fatal traffic crashes, is one of the Cobb County Police Department’s Special Operations units, and is described on the web page of the Cobb County Police Department as follows:

“The Selective Traffic Enforcement Unit is responsible for investigating all fatal traffic crashes, enforcement of traffic laws in those areas which analysis indicates an elevated amount of crashes. 

“They are also responsible for the administration and execution of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. 

“They also take part in special security details, and investigate crashes involving Department vehicles when requested.”

The unit is commanded by Lt. Lane Johnson.