Hannah Thompson Culbreth, 19, was behind the wheel of her compact car when she was struck by an allegedly stolen pickup truck driven by Jody Shane Kitchens.
“They made contact on the curve just east of Rockhouse Road,” said Investigator Wesley Burnett of the Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency responders rushed to the accident site but were unable to revive Culbreth.
The Lumpkin County resident died on the scene. Her eight-month-old daughter was also in the vehicle during the crash but was unharmed.
Fellow passenger, Jeffrey Caleb Welch, 21, was seriously injured and flown to Atlanta by helicopter.
Kitchens reportedly fled the scene immediately after the collision.
“He took off on foot,” said Burnett.
Georgia State Patrol troopers took over the investigation of the accident while local law enforcement officials teamed with canine handlers from Gainesville and Dawson County to begin the search for the 46-year-old Lumpkin County suspect.
“They searched for him all night,” said Burnett. “They tracked him with canines.”
Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said the dogs stayed on the trail of the suspect the entire night.
“We were keeping the roadways hot,” he said. “And he was just running around and around and around in the woods.”
It was early Tuesday morning when Jarrard received a tip from a passerby who reportedly spotted Kitchens moving across a clearing in the general area of the accident.
“She said a guy just came up out of the woods on the other side of a hill,” he said.
Jarrard was then able to cut off the suspect and was waiting at the wood-line when Kitchens reportedly stumbled out of the woods.
Officials said it appeared as though Kitchens suffered injuries from the accident as well as additional wounds that were inflicted as he allegedly fled into the woods.
He was transported to Chestatee Regional Hospital and then to Lumpkin County Detention Center.
He was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, hit and run, possession of marijuana, driving under the influence, serious injury by vehicle, too fast for conditions, failure to maintain a lane, failure to report an accident, reckless driving, removing or affixing a license plate with the intent to conceal or misrepresent and a parole violation.
Meanwhile, Jarrard thanked those who assisted in the apprehension of Kitchens and also expressed his condolences to the family of Culbreth.
“She was a good mother,” he said. “A mother that kept her child safe in her car seat. My heart goes out to the family that lost that child.”