Police are not releasing the names of those involved at this time.
The owner of the white Dodge Charger, who was in the backseat at the time of the single-car wreck at Highway 92 near Wade Green Road, was taken to an area hospital with head injuries, deputies said.
Two other suspects in the carjacking are believed to have fled on foot and police said they are searching for and working to identify the men.
Deputies at first believed the driver died from injuries in the crash, but when Earl Darby, the Cherokee County coroner, arrived at the scene and moved the body, they discovered the man had a gunshot wound in his back, a spokesman for the sheriff said.
“According to the victim, one of the suspects was hitting him in the head with a firearm and the gun discharged,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jay Baker said. “Moments later the car left the roadway and struck a tree.”
Jonathan Joyner lives in the Poplar Valley mobile home community next to where the wreck happened and said that he came out to help the injured victim before he was taken to the hospital.
“He kept saying there’s some guys that were trying to carjack him and steal his car and bind his wrists,” Joyner said. “He had a zip-tie on his left wrist, a black one, and the other one looked a little swollen, and he had a big lump on the back of his head. He was bleeding in several spots of his head.” Joyner said he offered the victim a “cool rag” and tried to “keep him talking in case he had a concussion.
“I did what I could,” Joyner said. “He said he tried to fight and they crashed.”
The carjacking happened at about 2:30 p.m., when the car was taken from a local neighborhood, deputies said.
Minutes later, the car went off the road while heading westbound on Highway 92, just after the Wade Green Road intersection near the Poplar Valley mobile home community, Baker said.
The Dodge Charger crashed into a tree after sliding down an embankment off the right side of the road. The exact cause of death of the driver is still unknown and an autopsy is scheduled for today, Baker said.
The owner of the Charger said he was in the back seat of his car with one suspect while the other two were in the front of the car, Baker said. One suspect is described as a light-skinned black male with a light-colored shirt and dark pants, and Baker said anyone who sees someone matching this description in the area is urged to call 911.
Baker said the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office is investigating the events leading up to the wreck, and the Georgia State Patrol is investigating the wreck.