By Jason A. Smith
Henry County Police are investigating a weekend wreck which took the life of a 26-year-old McDonough mother.
A memorial service is scheduled to be held Thursday for Scharlene Annette "Charly" Peterson. She died Friday in an accident on the outskirts of the city in which she lived. The fatal wreck occurred around 8:40 p.m., on Snapping Shoals Road, according to Police Maj. Jason Bolton.
"The victim's vehicle left the roadway coming out of a curve," Bolton said. "The vehicle hit a ditch and rolled. The victim was ejected from the vehicle.
"A neighbor called 911 after hearing the wreck," he continued. "She was located approximately 90 feet from the final resting place of the vehicle."
Peterson, the sole occupant of the vehicle, died at the scene, Bolton said.
The major added that evidence obtained thus far in the case, indicates that Peterson had been drinking."We do not yet know how much of a factor it was in the accident," the major said.
Peterson's father, Dennis Peterson, of McDonough, said that on the day of his daughter's death, the family was planning to celebrate the birthday of her brother, Reggie Riddle.
The father said he had seen Charly Peterson earlier in the day, drinking two beers.
"I had told her on a number of occasions, do not drink and drive," he said.
Charly's 2-year-old son, Jacob, was at home with her fiance, Eric Chase, at the time of the wreck, he added. The father of four said he became alarmed when he and Riddle arrived home Friday. Charly Peterson's car was not there, and a Henry County policeman was at their house.
"When I saw Charly's car wasn't here, I thought, 'She's either gotten a DUI or she's gotten in an accident, and they're coming to tell me,'" he continued. "I said, 'Has she been in an accident?' [The officer] said, "I want you to come in the house and sit down.' I knew right then, that she had been in a fatal accident."
Dennis Peterson sobbed as he described his reaction to the news of his daughter's death. "It's probably the most devastating time a parent can have, losing a child," he said.
Scharlotte Peterson, Charly's mother, called her daughter "the most wonderful mommy in the world" to Jacob. She said she is deeply saddened by the loss of her daughter. "I'm just so numb," she said. "It's like a nightmare."
She added that a trust fund has been set up for Jacob Chase, in the name of S.G. Peterson, at P.O. Box 80221, Conyers, Ga., 30013.
Dennis Peterson said it is "yet to be decided" who will take care of Jacob. For now, the boy will stay with him, his wife, and Eric Chase.
"This is the only home [the child] has ever known," he added. "It would be too traumatic for him to lose his mother and his home."
Riddle, of Sandy Springs, said his family is hoping to help people, through his sister's death. "One thing we are doing, rather than having people send flowers, is to have them make a donation to My Sister's Helper, a non-profit organization [in Atlanta] that helps single mothers, and those with drug addictions, to get their lives back together," said Riddle.
In addition to her parents, brother, fiance and child, Charly Peterson leaves behind two sisters, Angela Buttimer and Denise Faith. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews, Christian, Savannah, Lana, Hannah and Oliver.
Charly Peterson was born in DeKalb County, and attended Ola Elementary School in Henry County. She was a student at Henry County High School for three years, and graduated from Faith Academy.
Her memorial service will be Thursday, at 3 p.m., in the chapel of Haisten Funeral home, with Dennis Buttimer, the Rev. M. J. Briggs and the Rev. Marilyn Odom officiating.
For more information, call (770) 914-8833, or contact haistenfunerals.com.