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Two Men Forge Unlikely Friendship After Tragic Georgia Car Accident

December 16, 2018

GEORGIA – A story online at reveals an unlikely friendship forged by two men affected by a tragic Georgia car accident that took place in 2006. One of the men lost his wife and unborn child, and the other caused the accident that killed them.*

On October 2, 2006, EMT and rookie firefighter Matt Swatzell, then 20 years old, was driving home in Dacula, Georgia, after a long string of shifts with little sleep. He fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the centerline of the roadway, crashing into the vehicle of 30-year-old June Fitzgerald. June, who was seven months pregnant, tragically died in the crash. The unborn child did not survive. June’s 1-year-old daughter was in the car at the time, and she was not seriously injured. 

Swatzell was ordered by a court to pay a fine and perform community service (crashes caused by drowsy driving are misdemeanors in Georgia), and June’s husband, Erik Fitzgerald, did not push for a harsher penalty. The two men were both consumed with grief — one raising a daughter without his wife and the other coping with immense guilt. 

On the two-year anniversary of the crash, the two happened to bump into each other at a grocery store. Fitzgerald followed Swatzell out to his car in the parking lot and found Swatzell crying. 

“He was just bawling,” Fitzgerald said. “So I just walked up, and I just hugged him. Sometimes, things are best said with no words.” 

But Fitzgerald did say something — words that lifted immeasurable weight off Swatzell’s shoulders. Fitzgerald told Swatzell that he forgave him.  

“That was the biggest relief I’d ever felt,” Swatzell said. “He just said from the start that he forgives me. Just hearing him say those words, it just impacted my life completely.” 

The two talked for a while that day and pledged to remain in touch. And surprisingly, they did. The two have forged a close bond that brings them together often, even on holidays. Both men say they feel like they were supposed to be in each other’s lives. 

“In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there are opportunities to either demonstrate grace or exact vengeance,” Fitzgerald said, remembering a sermon he’d heard in the past. “Here was an opportunity where I could do that. And I chose to demonstrate grace.” 

Accident News is an archive of select Georgia accidents, designed to alert and educate drivers, to help them avoid the most common causes of motor vehicle crashes.  If you or a family member are injured in an accident, call Montlick & Associates 24/7 for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) or use our live chat at  For more information about Montlick & Associates’ award-winning public service programs click here.  

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* This blog is intended to provide the public with news concerning serious automobile accidents and related stories. Although we are receiving this information from news organizations, initial reports may be different from conclusions reached by law enforcement personnel and other organizations, upon further investigation. Therefore, the accuracy of the content is not guaranteed. The information published here is based on information that has already been reported by a news organization, or other sources, and we cannot and do not assume responsibility for its accuracy. The source that we utilized at the time is provided above. If this posting pertains to you or your family and you do not wish for it to be on our website, please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to remove it, but when doing so, please include a link to the the article that you wish to be taken down.

Category: Accident News

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