By Patrick Yost editor

A Morgan County fire fighter was killed Sunday after a head–on collision with another volunteer fire fighter on Pierce Dairy Road that Georgia State Patrol officials said came during a game of “chicken.”

Michael Keith Arnold, 26, Mansfield, was pronounced dead at Athens Regional Medical Center Sunday night. He suffered head injuries, said Sgt. Justin Howard, Georgia State Patrol.

According to a press release issued by the Georgia State Patrol, Arnold was driving a 1999 Toyota half ton pickup truck south on Pierce Dairy Road and Jonathan Christopher Bone, 21, Madison, was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado north on Pierce Dairy Road when the two vehicles collided.

According to Sgt. Mark Bentley, Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT), the incident occurred south of Aqua Road on a straight section of road. The incident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. Bentley said he was notified by the Georgia State Patrol after a trooper observed a “possible prosecutable fatality” and was called to investigate the crash.

Bone was also injured and transported to Athens Regional Medical Center. Ian Vincent O’Kelley, 19, Bostwick, a passenger in Arnold’s truck, was also transported to Athens Regional Medical Center. Howard could not comment on the medical condition of either Bone or O’Kelley. Trevor Lee Martin, 19, Madison, a passenger in Bone’s vehicle, was transported to Morgan Memorial Hospital, Howard said, where he was treated for injury and released.

The press release states that “alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash and blood was drawn from both drivers to determine if either was impaired. Troopers also believe the crash was the result of the two drivers playing a game of chicken.”

According to reports, none of the four men involved in the incident were wearing a seat belt. Reports also state that alcohol use was suspected on Arnold, Bone and Martin and is unknown on O’Kelley.

According to Morgan County Fire Department Chief Mark Marvin, Arnold had been a full time fire fighter with the county since 2012. Prior to that, Marvin said, he had worked as a volunteer for three years. “He was great. Everybody loved him and he’ll be sorely missed,” Marvin said.

Bone is a volunteer fire fighter with the Rutledge Volunteer Fire Department and has worked with that department since 2012. Records state that Sunday was his 21st birthday.

Howard and Bentley said that at the conclusion of the investigation into the fatal crash results, including blood work and physical evidence, will be given to Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Alison Burleson. Howard said at that time Burleson will decide if the incident warrants criminal charges.

Marvin said a visitation for Arnold was scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9 at Carter Funeral Home and a memorial service is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Carter Funeral Home.