Charges filed after unborn child dies, family injured in wreck

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Gwinnett County Police have charged a driver in connection with a weekend traffic accident that killed an unborn child and injured three members of the child’s family.

Police arrested 37-year-old Charles Rutledge of Lilburn after the multi-vehicle accident Sunday night at around 8 p.m. on Winder Highway near Franklin Drive in Dacula.

Investigators say the pickup truck driven by Rutledge crossed double yellow lines, struck the side of another pickup, kept traveling southbound in the northbound lanes, and struck a Toyota 4 Runner head-on.

Inside the SUV were the pregnant driver, 22-year-old Christina Barnum of Auburn, her husband 23-year-old Joseph Barnum, and their son, 2-year-old Jason.

Medics rushed the family to Gwinnett Medical Center with serious, life-threatening injuries. 

Family members told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner doctors performed an emergency C-section on the 27-week old girl but she died from her injuries.

By Wednesday, family members told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner the mother and father remained in the hospital, but their young son had been released.

According to Gwinnett Police spokesperson Sgt. Wilbert Rundles, officers charged Rutledge with feticide by vehicle, three counts of serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, speeding, failure to maintain lane, droving on wrong side of road, open container and seatbelt violation.

Sgt. Rundles added additional charges are still pending.

Family members have set up a GoFund Me page to support the Barnums.

They write, “We hope that also by raising awareness of this people will realize what a senseless act it was, and how there is no reason to drive under the influence - especially in modern times with Uber and Lyft.”

The accident hit close to home for Gwinnett Police investigators.

In a news release, they wrote, “This is the second traffic collision that has resulted in the death of an unborn baby in the past few weeks. Our thoughts are with the grieving families during these difficult times.”