Police: DUI motorist kills pedestrian, drives around with body

james_onakIt’s difficult to explain the behavior of even sober drivers. During a recent rainstorm, I saw professional truckers illegally using their hazard lights while motoring up I-75.

And on Ponce, after a different storm, motorists were treating a flashing yellow light like a four-way stop.

Driver education clearly ain’t what it used to be.

But drunk drivers really ramp up the tragic and bizarre.

In Texas, a drunk driver accused of killing a pedestrian was reportedly unaware he was driving around with the dead man in his passenger seat.

KTRK-TV in Houston, an ABC affiliate, reports James John Onak, 49, did not appear to notice a legless body was riding shotgun until police pulled him over and asked him to exit the vehicle.

Onak’s Mazda had “considerable front end damage,” presumably from hitting a 32-year-old man on I-45 whose car had broken down.

The body smashed through Onak’s windshield, police say, but he kept driving until police stopped him two miles down the road. He later told police he though he’d hit something, but wasn’t sure what.

The victim has not been identified.

Readers that have been around awhile may be reminded of a similar horrific event in 2004, when a drunk 21-year-old Cobb County man involved in an accident drove home with his beheaded friend’s body hanging out his pickup window. The driver was not aware of his friend’s death until a neighbor walking his 8-year-old daughter made the gruesome discovery early the next morning.

29 comments Add your comment

Officer Friendly

June 29th, 2011
12:40 pm

“He later told police he though he’d hit something, but wasn’t sure what.”

The guy was just practicing safe driving by keeping his eyes on the road. Texting, chatting with a dead person in the passenger seat, that kind of thing, all unsafe driving habits.

Chief Wiggum

June 29th, 2011
10:25 pm

Sounds like “Weekend at Bernie’s”

IUI Idiots under the influence

June 29th, 2011
11:48 pm

“legless body was riding shotgun”…. Good Lord! What happened to the 21 yr. old Cobb County driver?


June 30th, 2011
1:14 am

I don’t know what happened to the driver, but I remember the passenger got sick, stuck his head out the window and it was cut off by one of the wire lines that connects to power poles. I wanna say it was off of Canton Road, but I could be wrong.


June 30th, 2011
1:31 am

The Cobb County driver got 5 years in prison. The victim’s family begged for leniency. The driver was “like another son to them”


June 30th, 2011
5:26 am

it’z ok ozziferr that’z my friend stumpee

the rules

June 30th, 2011
8:04 am

Do you think that the truckers were using their 4-ways because they were going below the minimum speed limit…. if so, you need to go back and read your drivers ed manual…. they’re right, you’re wrong.


June 30th, 2011
8:53 am

Thank you the rules, because I remember reading you always treat a malfuction red light like a four way stop. This guy should get a death sentence.


June 30th, 2011
9:07 am

Easy does it, Kay…. You heard wrong.”the rules” is correct on the “truckers using their flashers” comment, but he didn’t say a word about malfunctioning red lights. As for traffic signals, you are to stop at flashing red lights and proceed with caution on a flashing yellow. You do not have to stop on a flashing yellow and thinking that people will can get you killed quicker than your premature death sentence. Only on a NON-fuctioning traffic light would it become a stop from all directions. That is a no brainer, because you need to understand that some people may not have ever travelled that road and may not realize that there is a signal there that is not working, and could blow right through the intersection.


June 30th, 2011
9:23 am

To George Mathis (the article’s writer), what does Truckers using hazards and 4 way stops have to do with a guy driving around with a body? It’s not a good analogy and you should refrain from using poor grammar such as “ain’t.” If there was a white out due to torrential rain, I would appreciate trucks using hazard lights as a cautionary measure. In terms of 4 way stops, always err on the side of caution instead of assuming that EVERYONE knows what to do. I’m surrounded by morons in this town and it seems Mr. Mathis is one of them!


June 30th, 2011
9:46 am

There was another incident years ago of a young woman who drove with a body in her windshield all the way home and into her garage.

Tom Terriffic

June 30th, 2011
10:08 am

Maybe the driver was just trying to get a leg up on the other drivers.

Still, he should have known that something was afoot.


June 30th, 2011
10:58 am

While stopping at a flashing yellow might not be by the book it is polite, something that we that drive Ponce daily appreciate. I wouldn’t expect the same politeness in other parts of town.

Charles Harris

June 30th, 2011
12:27 pm

He must to have been really lonely and went to extreme measures to get a riding buddy.


June 30th, 2011
12:32 pm

Please note that I am the aunt to the young man who was killed in 2004. The young man responsible
for his death has turned his life around and doing fine.


June 30th, 2011
12:41 pm

Guess he was just trying to get a leg up on the authorities?


June 30th, 2011
2:08 pm

Driving with flashers in GA is not illegal, but common sense says its a warning to slow down so I find it a safe practice. Truckers use it to say they’ve got a heavy load, and could possibly roll back or stop. On I-75 in TN, use them alot to keep idiots from becoming wedged under a trailer. Sometimes if we turn in populated areas we use them as well. I treat all flashing lights as a stop…Unless the light is timed, your supposed to yield to stupid……go ahead hit me, I’m insured.

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-23

Voice of Reason

June 30th, 2011
2:09 pm


If you drive with your hazard lights on I will run you off the road.

Hazard lights use the same bulb as your turn signals use you idiot…..how am I supposed to know when you need to get over or when you need to turn if you have your hazard lights on? Think stupid……use your brain for something besides a hat rack. And please don’t ever drive.

mud roy

June 30th, 2011
6:23 pm

i wasnt aware you were supposed to stop for any light unless there is a car coming ? i never ever stop once my car gets mooving. around cristmas time, you would always be stopped, their are soooo many flashing and blinking lights. what do you do in that case?


June 30th, 2011
6:41 pm

I have no idea whether or not it is illegal to use your hazard lights while driving. However, I do know that I have been caught in several extremely heavy storms both on I-75 and I-575 where both truckers and cars had their hazard lights turned on. I really appreciated it because the normal tail lights were too dim to see through the storm so cars may have driven right into the back of the person in front of them before they realized that a vehicle was there. It’s simply a matter of common courtesy. As far as the post that mentioned that the hazard lights were the same ones used to signal a turn: get a life. If the storm is heavy enough that you are having problems seeing then you are most likely not going to be changing lanes either to the left or to the right.


July 1st, 2011
3:06 am

A similar thing happened years ago also in Cobb County, Smyrna to be exact. A drunk hit 2 young teen girls. While one of them was thrown to the side of the road….the other was dead in the back of his EL CAMINO! He was on his way to the liquor store!! I bet he’s out of jail by now.

Tim O'Connor

July 1st, 2011
8:26 am

If you smoked the most powerful weed in the whole world you would never be as incapacitated as two beers. Alcohol kills FOUR PERCENT OF THE GLOBAL POPULATION.

Retired Fireman

July 1st, 2011
3:12 pm

@Chemequa: What you and the media fail to say is the girls were walking in the middle of an unlit street at night and just over a hill. Drunk or sober no one traveling the speed limit (35 mph right there) could have possibly missed the two girls. BTW, it makes no difference but he was not on the way to a liquor store, he had just left a bar. I am quite familiar as I was one of the first to arrive.


July 1st, 2011
8:58 pm

how can you drove home with your dead buddys headless body riding shot gun with no head? and i have been pretty drunk, 1 eyed driving ect……..but not to notice a HEAD! c’mon you shouldnt be allowed to breed!

Alena Bates

July 3rd, 2011
2:31 pm

When I got my driver’s license the law was to stop like a four-way stop if the light was flashing. When they change the law, they should mail each driver a version of the new one. I didn’t know until a year ago that it had changed.


July 4th, 2011
2:34 am

Malfunctioning redlights are to be treated as 4 way stops UNLESS the light is at an intersection where a local road intersects a major road. At which time, the lights that control the local, or minor, road should be blinking red, indicating that all traffic on that road treat the light as a stop sign. The light that controls the major road should be blinking yellow, and should be treated as a flashing caution light. In short, traffic entering the main/major roadway should come to a complete stop before proceeding into the intersection.

Good buddy Trucker

July 4th, 2011
5:04 am

How do you walk a 8 year old daughter?


July 5th, 2011
3:37 am

With a leash Trucker … with a leash

Clarks Brother

July 6th, 2011
5:54 pm

i have actually become dumber by reading these idiotic comments. You people are a sad disgrace to our human race. Any doosh who takes the tame to comment on an article that was a waste of space is just that, a giant doosh bag.