Death of close family friend of Georgia governor preceded critical weekend for state, nation

by WorldTribune Staff, December 8, 2020

A big weekend for Republicans in Georgia was marked by tragedy when Harrison Deal, a 20-year-old staffer working with Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign, was killed in a car crash on Friday that set three vehicles ablaze.

Gov. Brian Kemp did not attend President Donald Trump’s rally for Sens. Loeffler and David Perdue in Valdosta on Saturday following the death of Deal, who was a close personal friend of the Kemp family. Kemp also canceled plans to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in Savannah on Friday.

Harrison Deal and Lucy Kemp / Facebook

On Monday, Kemp recertified the results of his state’s presidential election after a recount confirmed former Vice President Joe Biden as the winner.

Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took that action despite security footage made public at a Georgia Senate hearing Thursday that went viral nationally and was regarded as explosive evidence in support of Republicans’ claims of significant election problems.

Trump reportedly called Kemp on Saturday and asked the governor to call a special session of the legislature to overturn the election results and appoint electors who would back him, a person familiar with conversation told The Washington Post. Trump also asked the governor to call for a signature audit.

Kemp tweeted Saturday afternoon that he told the president during the call that he has repeatedly asked for a signature audit.

“As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia. #gapol,” Kemp wrote.

Trump tweeted in response: “But you never got the signature verification! Your people are refusing to do what you ask. What are they hiding? At least immediately ask for a Special Session of the Legislature. That you can easily, and immediately, do. #Transparency”.

Loeffler tweeted: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Harrison Deal. My heart aches for his family, and (husband) Jeff (Sprecher) and I will continue to surround them in love and prayer in the days ahead. Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team. More importantly, Harrison was a smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man. Harrison embodied the very best of this campaign — and the very best of our state.”

In a Twitter post, Kemp wrote: “Today, we lost a member of our ‘Kemp Strong’ family and words cannot express how much Harrison Deal’s life, love and support meant to us. He was a person of deep faith, unmatched integrity, and incredible kindness. Harrison was the Kemp son and brother we never had.”

Deal was close with Kemp’s 19-year-old daughter Lucy. “It’s impossible to put into words just who Harrison Deal was,” Lucy Kemp said in a statement issued through the governor’s office. “He was so special to me and I can’t imagine my life without him.”

Trump also offered his condolences. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall told The Hill in a statement that the president called the governor on Saturday morning and spoke about Deal, who was killed in a crash on Interstate 16 in Pooler, outside Savannah.

Pooler Police Public Information Officer Lindsey Heintzman said Deal was traveling on the interstate around 10 a.m. Friday when a flatbed truck hauling black plastic tubing struck his vehicle from behind. The impact caused Deal’s vehicle to crash into a third vehicle, Heintzman said. Deal’s vehicle caught fire and he died as a result of the crash. Heintzman said the fire “affected the other vehicles” but neither of the other two drivers was seriously injured.

Heintzman said the investigation “could take weeks, even months, to complete.”

On Monday, the Statesboro Herald reported that “Deal’s body was escorted from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Pooler to Deal Funeral Directors in Statesboro. Georgia State Patrol troopers and representatives from several Bulloch County public safety agencies participated in the escort honoring Deal.”

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