BREAKING: Georgia Supreme Court upholds Dawson County man’s conviction for Hannah Bender’s 2019 murder
The district attorney recognized the "horrific” nature of Bender’s death, thanking those involved in the judicial process and stating that “justice was well served” in the case.
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Driver, 16, charged in car surfing fatality
Dawsonville teen killed in June crash
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Charges have been filed against the Forsyth County teenage driver involved in a June fatal car surfing wreck that claimed the life of a 16-year-old Dawson County girl.

The Georgia State Patrol has charged the driver, also 16 and whose name has not been released because she is a juvenile, with felony first-degree homicide by vehicle, reckless driving and driving too fast for conditions.

She also has been charged with driving in violation of license restrictions. Only immediate family may be passengers in the vehicle for the initial six-month period after 16-year-olds obtain a Class D license.

"The driver had only been 16 for three months," said Robin Stone, a spokeswoman for the state patrol.

The charges were filed Nov. 6 in Dawson County Juvenile Court.

The incident occurred June 10 on Couch Road in Dawsonville. Authorities said Anna Hawkins was car surfing when the driver of a Suzuki Grand Vitara lost control in a curve and she fell from atop the vehicle.

Hawkins' family has disputed the claim that she was car surfing, a dangerous practice often depicted in movies and on TV that involves standing on the hood or roof of a moving vehicle.

Trooper First Class Mark Cox said evidence was collected that "places her on the vehicle. We can definitely place her on the vehicle."

Days after the wreck, Hawkins' older sister Kati said she felt otherwise, citing witness accounts and her review of the state patrol's markings that identify where the sport utility vehicle left the road.

"There are just so many unanswered questions, and it's not fair to Anna that these things can be said about her when she is not here to defend herself," she said at the time. "The whole thing is inconclusive."

In response to the family's assertion that Hawkins may have fallen from inside the SUV, Cox countered that there was "no evidence whatsoever that the door came open."

Cox said he interviewed one of the witnesses the Hawkins family referenced, but determined the man's statements were not credible.

"He said there was a street light that illuminated the roadway that night that allowed him to see," the trooper said. "But I went out there ... at about the same time and it was pitch dark."

Described as a friend to everyone and someone who went out of her way to make others feel loved, Hawkins was a rising junior at Dawson County High School, where she excelled both academically and on the soccer field.

"She was good at everything she did," her sister said. "She could sing. She was great at sports. She was so smart, she read all the time. She was very level-headed and very down to earth. The first mistake she ever made was being in that car."

The wreck marked the county's fourth traffic fatality of 2013 and the fifth death on Dawson County roads.