Georgia authorities are investigating whether road rage set the stage for a fiery crash that killed four people from Midway on their way to an American Idol tryout.
The four included Jerome Roberts, 40, who was driving the vehicle, his live-in girlfriend Cheryl Collins, 41, their 11-year-old daughter, Auguste Roberts, and Collins' daughter, MaRhonda Collins, 20.
The family had scheduled a Florida vacation so Ma Rhonda Collins could audition for the American Idol TV show in Orlando next week, said Cheryl Collins' sister, Polly Inman.
"MaRhonda had such hopes and dreams," said Inman.
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Inman said the allegations that Roberts exhibited aggression toward another driver just before the wreck doesn't fit with the man she described as a doting father figure to Auguste and MaRhonda.
Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson confirmed that police in Georgia are investigating whether road rage contributed to the incident.
Watson said Roberts was driving a silver Saturn.
The Valdosta Daily Times quoted Georgia State Patrol officials as saying that the driver of a black Honda was on the phone with Lowndes County 911 reporting the aggressive behavior of the driver of a silver Saturn when both vehicles were struck by a Penske rental truck.
The collision occurred at 2:30 a.m. Thursday in the southbound lanes on Interstate 75 about 16 miles north of the Florida line.
The Georgia newspaper reported that after the collision, the three vehicles involved traveled 30 yards and came to rest in the middle lane of southbound I-75. The Saturn exploded into flames.
The people in the other vehicles were not injured.
Georgia State Patrol officials who are investigating the accident could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jerome Roberts' brother, John Roberts, who lives in Lexington, said that he has doubts about the road rage scenario.
"I don't think he would have put his family in danger," Roberts said Friday night.
Watson, the Georgia coroner, said that he made tentative identification of the four after finding an empty pill bottle prescribed to a relative in Kentucky and contacting a physician and a Georgetown pharmacy.
"It was a horrendous fire," Watson said.
Inman said her sister was disabled from fibromyalgia and Roberts had been laid off from his job as a steelworker.
But she said they pooled their money to take MaRhonda to Florida.
MaRhonda loved to sing. With her cousin, Andrew Inman, she had gone to the show's tryouts in Louisville last year but didn't get picked.
MaRhonda Collins described herself on her My Space page as a 2007 graduate of Scott County High School and a biology major at UK.
Polly Inman said the ambitious young woman got a scholarship to the University of Kentucky and was going to apply to medical school.
Inman said Auguste was smart as a whip and was following in her sister's footsteps with academic success.
MaRhonda Collins was happy, positive, always offering uplifting messages, her aunt said.
One of those messages, posted on her My Space page which she last visited June 29, said, "Keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason."