Rutledge woman dies in accident

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2005

The life of a local woman was claimed in a single vehicle accident early New Year’s morning near the Gantt community.

It’s a tragedy that’s striking many with difficulty, as alcohol reportedly played a factor in the collision.

At approximately 12:28 a.m. Jan. 1, a Rutledge resident was killed when the car driven by her father left the roadway six and a half miles north of Gantt on Hwy. 29.

Rachel Michelle Roberts, a 20-year-old white female, has been identified as the fatality victim involved in the state’s first motor vehicle accident of 2005.

&uot;The daughter of the man driving the vehicle died,&uot; Sergeant Tommy Waters, a spokesperson for the Alabama State Troopers regional division, reiterated of the fatality Monday.

&uot;According to the trooper in charge (Trooper Blake Turman), the driver has been charged with a DUI.&uot;

Sgt. Waters said that the charges against the driver, Ronald Darin Barbaree, could be increased, warranting a decision from the District Attorney’s office.

&uot;The DA may decide to upgrade the charges,&uot; Sgt. Waters said.

Barbaree, 37, of Andalusia, was also injured when the car left the roadway and ended up in a wooded area. After being treated at Andalusia Regional Hospital New Year’s morning, Barbaree was arrested and taken to the Covington County Jail on a charge of DUI.

He was released the same day on a property bond.

According to Sgt. Waters and statements provided to him, the young woman who died in the wreck was reportedly pregnant at the time of her death.

&uot;On scene, one of her family members said she was pregnant,&uot; Waters said.

It was unknown as of presstime how far along the young woman was, but the fetus did not survive.

Jenni Ingram, a firefighter with the Gantt Volunteer Fire Department, responded to the collision, along with other VFD volunteers, the CCSO, State Troopers and EMS units.

When the Gantt volunteer saw the wreckage, the car that Roberts and Barbaree had been traveling in was completely on its side, and she noted there were several trees down around the car, but it was unknown to her at the time whether those were downed due to the wreck or to other factors.

Of the situation itself, with the somberness of Rachel Roberts’ death, Ingram was quite certain.

&uot;(The mood) was very melancholy,&uot; Ingram commented.

&uot;I guess it would be that you’re starting the very beginning of the year having to be called out to a fatality, especially when it involves alcohol.&uot;

Ingram said that she knew Roberts to some degree and always thought of her as a bright, bubbly person.

&uot;Rachel had worked at several different spots around here,&uot; Ingram remarked, pointing to certain eating establishments and Gantt Lake Grocery.

&uot;She had blonde hair.

She was a real sweet girl. This was just awful.&uot;

Roberts was one of a staggering 17 individual Alabama highway traffic fatalities during the 2005 New Year’s holiday, Sgt. Waters pointed out.