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One man dies in wreck
Authorities seek leads from public
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Anyone with information about the April 19 fatal, head-on collision on Auraria Road can call Investigator Stuart Stephens at (706) 344-3620.

Authorities would like to talk to anyone who may have seen a head-on collision April 19 on Auraria Road that claimed the life of a 24-year-old Dawsonville man.


In particular, investigators are looking for the driver of a motorcycle they say may have driven past the two-vehicle wreck moments after it happened.


Dawson County Coroner Ted Bearden said John Paul Castanon died about 8:30 p.m. April 19 at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he had been taken for treatment of injuries from the wreck.


The Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is investigating the collision, which occurred about 5:30 p.m. on Auraria Road near Hwy. 136


As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed.


Georgia State Trooper Todd Hinson said Eric Van Wertz, 37, of Dawson County, was driving at a high rate of speed when his Corvette crossed the center line and collided with Castanon’s vehicle.


“Speed was definitely a factor,” said Hinson, who added that paramedics detected alcohol on Wertz’s breath. “So alcohol may also have been involved.”


Emergency workers said Wertz, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle.


Both men were flown to Grady with serious injuries, according to Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services.


Wertz’s condition could not be determined Tuesday afternoon.


A family friend said Castanon was on his way home from work at the time of the wreck.


Vanessa Esparza said Castanon, whom she called Juan Pablo, recently moved to the area from Norcross.


While the fatal wreck was the county’s first in 2011, it was the second vehicle-related death in Dawson County in a three-day span.


A 29-year-old Dawson-ville woman was killed April 16 when her car went into gear and rolled over her in her driveway.