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  • County attorney helps save infant

    060321 hayCOURTESY PHOTO Trinity County Attorney Colton Hay walks away from a one-vehicle crash, where he and others helped rescue an infant that was in the vehicle.

    News-Standard staff

    GROVETON — Trinity County Attorney Colton Hay can add lifesaver to his resume, having come to the aid of an infant following a car crash on May 25.

    The wreck occurred on State Highway 94 west of Groveton at about 5 p.m.

    According to police reports, the driver, James Christopher Gambrell Jr., 29, was driving his vehicle in an unsafe manner during a rainstorm, hydroplaned, and rolled the vehicle into a ditch.

    Hay said he witnessed the event on his way home from work,

    “We went over to the car, me and a few other people, and someone hollered, ‘There’s a baby in here,’” Hay said. “I carry a sledgehammer in the car for trailer hitches; we looked, found the child, and broke the back window.”

    Hay then called law enforcement officials on his cell phone to report the event.

    The car had come to a stop upside down in about a foot of water, with oil and other fluids leaking from the car, reports indicate. Hay, who recently became a father for the first time, climbed into the car to get the baby out.

    Hay said the car was filled with many items, such as computers and tools, which made entering the car difficult.

    “I shimmy into the car through the back window; the driver was wedged in the car, part in front and part in back,” Hay said. “I got to the baby; it looked to be about a year old. The car seat was flipped over, because it was not attached properly.”

    Hay said the child was crying and moving her arms and legs, and had a small abrasion on her cheek.

    “I unhooked her as carefully as I could from the seat, cradled her as best as I could, and shimmied out,” he said.

    Reports state the child was taken by ambulance to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver was arrested for driving with license invalid with a previous conviction, and other charges are pending.

    Hay said that with the help of other passers-by who witnessed the crash and stopped to help, they were able to help the child.

    “I just had a baby, and holding her was like holding mine, and we got her out and we all were ecstatic,” Hay said. “It was beautiful to see people to come together from all walks of life and save this girl.

    “It was an emotional experience,” he said.

  • Fatal Trinity County crash claims Groveton woman

    police lightsFILE PHOTO Police lights

    By Chris Edwards

    TRINITY COUNTY – A Groveton woman is dead following a multiple-vehicle crash that occurred near Groveton on the evening of Wednesday, March 31.

    According to Sgt. David Hendry with the Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS troopers responded to a three-vehicle crash, which involved one of their own, about six miles west of the Groveton city limits on SH 94.

    According to the preliminary investigation, a Mack truck towing a pole trailer was eastbound and a DPS Chevrolet patrol vehicle was westbound at approximately 6:45 p.m. The trooper in the patrol vehicle, Brady Germeroth, of Crockett, identified a movingviolation on another eastbound vehicle and made a U-turn.

    As Germeroth was attempting to re-enter the eastbound lane of the highway, the driver of the Mack truck drove over into the westbound land and struck a Jeep Wrangler head-on. Both the truck and its accompanying trailer crossed back over into the eastbound lane, striking the back right side of the DPS vehicle, and continued off the roadway where it overturned onto its passenger side and caught fire.

    The driver of the Mack truck, 35-year-old Chad Deford, of Livingston, was not injured in the crash, neither was Germeroth. The driver of the Jeep, 53-year-old Melanie Painter, of Groveton, was transported to Crockett Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased a short time later, according to Hendry. The crash remains under investigation.

  • High-speed chase ends in arrest in Tyler County

    RaheemJonesMugMUGSHOT Raheem Jones

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY - A high-speed chase on highway 190 near the Tyler County line resulted in the arrest of a Jasper man on several charges.

    The chase begun on Saturday evening, at approximately 8 p.m., according to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Police Department. Officer S. Allison with the tribal PD attempted to initiate a traffic stop for defective equipment, and the driver refused to stop.

    A high-speed pursuit begun along 190 eastbound, and once near the county line, deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office were called in to assist the AC officers in pursuit. The driver, who was identified as Raheem Wesley Corday Jones, got up to speeds in excess of 100 mph in the 2010 gold Cadillac he drove.

    Allison was able to get Jones to stop in Tyler County and held him until multiple units from TCSO and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on the scene. Jones was arrested for evading and driving with an invalid license and was also found to have an outstanding warrant for parole violations stemming from an intent to deliver a controlled substance conviction. He was taken to the Polk County Jail.

    He is currently incarcerated on bonds totaling $16,500 from the evading and DWLI charges, and no bond on the parole violation.

  • On the rebound

    022521 weather 4PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Wayne Byers spreads a compound to help melt ice and snow.

    By Tony Farkas

    From rescheduling certain sporting events to clearing roads of dangerous conditions, workers at local, county and state levels as well as possible, given the nature of the weather event that shut the area down last week.

    Trinity City Manager Steven Jones called the weather last week unprecedented, and while water pressure was a problem at first, it was handled within a matter of hours.

    “The Trinity water system is up and running,” he said. “Other than people having personal problems, all is good with us. Our system was prepared for this; what happened was a mechanical function, a pump, which was repaired within a couple of hours, and a pipe burst which was fixed right away.”

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Apple Springs resident and neighbor Dreux Land distributes some water to the folks in Groveton who are still without. Good neighbors and great citizenship are what help make this a wonderful place to live.

    The city wells did perform, and any lapse in service was because of problems with Trinity River Authority equipment.

    Throughout the county, TxDOT scraped roads and applied a compound to melt the ice.

    Groveton Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett was out as long as possible each day, helping where he could, and inspecting streets for signs of water breaks.

    There was a major line break and Fourth and Crow streets, and Bennett asked residents to call the city if they suspect there are more water leaks.

    All area of town should have water restored by Wednesday, he said.

    Area schools from Apple Springs to Trinity went to remote learning and were closed for the week, although in Groveton, the school was on its winter break and only had to cancel some sporting events.

    Apple Springs Superintendent Cody Moree said he decided Feb. 12 to switch to remote learning for two days in light of forecasts, and then extended it through Monday.

    “Our greatest concern was for our students and families who spent extended time without power, heat and water,” Moree said. “But we are looking forward to getting back to face to face learning ASAP.”

    Centerville Superintendent Mark Brown also closed the campus, and while the first two days featured remote learning, the district will file an inclement waiver with the state to excuse the remaining three days.

    Trinity ISD was closed through Tuesday, and was to resume classes Wednesday, according to Superintendent John Kaufman.

    022521 weather 3PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Keith Rogers uses a front-end loader to remove snow and ice near the intersection of Main and FM 355 in Groveton.

    Other than two small water line breaks, there was minimal damage to the facilities, he said.

    The biggest obstacle, though, was delays in the delivery of food and milk to the cafeteria, and drinkable water was in high demand and short supply. 

    “We could have opened the district on Monday, but we have many students and staff members who are still without water, and I wanted to give our community and staff a few more days to try and recover,” Kaufman said. “This was a very damaging storm to our community and effected everyone in our town. The school district is very aware of the needs of our families and want to be very sympathetic to their concerns. I would like to thank the community for being patient and working with us as we try and navigate through these difficult times.”

    In a news release, Entergy Texas expected all customers who can safely take power were able to turn the lights on by the end of the business day on Friday.

    At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott, after issuing an emergency declaration for all Texas counties on Feb. 14, on Saturday announced that President Joe Biden approved a partial emergency declaration for Texas.

    FEMA added 33 Texas counties to the list on Monday, but Trinity County was not included at that time.

    Additionally, Abbott temporarily waived regulations from the Department of Motor Vehicles to aid in the response to winter weather and power outages throughout the state.

    These waivers allowed commercial vehicles to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere and doing emergency response.

    These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Trinity County Judge Doug Page looks on as Apple Sprints resident helps some of the waterless victims of Groveton with a helping hand, distributing free water to those who are in need.

    “As we continue to bring power and water back online throughout the state, it is essential that we deliver the food, water, and supplies that Texans need during these challenging times,” Abbott said. “These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency.”

    Since the Legislature is in session this year, Abbott added a mandate for the winterization of Texas' power system to the list of emergency items the state must tackle. 

    Abbott also requested a Major Disaster Declaration — which includes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program — from the White House. This declaration will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage.

    The state is also working to distribute food, water, generators, and additional supplies to Texas communities, and warming centers are established every day. For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit: https://open.texas.gov/winter

    Expressing concern about financial challenges Texans will face as a result of the winter storm, Abbott will address the need to ensure that Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market.

    The meeting include committee leaders, including Sen. Robert Nichols, who represents San Jacinto County.

    The Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees public utilities, prioritized natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order on Feb. 12, and recently extended it through Tuesday.

    This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

  • One arrested in single-car crash

    031121 crashMUGSHOT Blake Ellery Partain

    TCNS staff

    APPLE SPRINGS — A Kennard man was arrested Sunday for a one-vehicle crash that left a woman dead.

    Blake Ellery Partain, 29, is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter in connection with the death of Chelsea McBride, 29.

    According to reports from the Department of Public Safety, troopers were notified of a one-vehicle crash on FM 357, about 2 ½ miles north of Apple Springs.

    The preliminary crash investigation indicates at about 2 a.m., a 2009 Dodge pickup, reportedly driven by Partain, was traveling north at an unsafe speed when the driver drove off the roadway to the right, then crossed back over the roadway and struck a tree. The pickup then caught on fire.

    McBride was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Trinity County Justice of the Peace, the report states.

    During the investigation, Partain was determined to be intoxicated and taken into custody, the report states.

    This crash remains under investigation.

  • Two die in head-on collision

    IMG 0962KELLI BARNES I PCE A head-on collision between a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2013 Ford Taurus on US Highway 190 east of Livingston resulted in the deaths of Michael Tobin, 55, and Christopher Hinson, 37, Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    A head-on collision in eastern Polk County Tuesday morning claimed the lives of two men.

    Michael Tobin, 55, of Onalaska and Christopher Hinson, 37, of Livingston were both killed in the collision that took place on US Highway 190 east of Livingston. The accident took place at approximately 6:49 a.m., which caused a delay in traffic and took 3 1/2 hours to clean up.

    A 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe was driven eastbound by Tobin in the outside lane, and a 2013 Ford Taurus driven by Hinson traveled westbound. Hinson started passing people in a no-passing zone and struck Tobin’s vehicle head-on.

    Hinson was arrested Sunday afternoon by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after they responded to a public disturbance call. He had a mental health warrant and also received a charge of resisting arrest.

    Despite having a mental health warrant, Hinson was not sent to a mental health facility after being released from the Polk County Jail Monday. According to Department of Public Safety Trooper Ashlee White, who was the lead officer on the scene of the fatality, the mental health facility wouldn’t take him “because it wasn’t an emergency matter.”

    In addition to White and other DPS troopers, the PCSO, Livingston Volunteer Fire Department and Allegiance Ambulance Service were all dispatched to the scene. The DPS is investigating the accident.

  • Two injured in crash

    DPS logo

    Special to the News-Standard

    TRINITY COUNTY – The Texas Department of Public Safety investigated a two-vehicle crash Tuesday morning on SH 94, just west of Deaton Road.

    The preliminary crash investigation indicates at approximately 10 a.m., a 2009 Ford passenger car was traveling east, collided with a 2020 Dodge pickup that was traveling west.

    Reports indicate the driver of the Ford droveover into the westbound lane and struck the Dodge on the driver side. The Ford then continued off the roadway, where it caught on fire.

    The driver of the Ford, Diana Haddox, 52, of Groveton, was able to exit the vehicle. She was transported to a Conroe hospital by medical helicopter for treatment.

    The driver of the Dodge, Alesha Turner, 35, of Diboll, was transported to Woodland Heights Hospital in Lufkin for treatment.

    This crash remains under investigation. Additional information is not available at this time.

  • Vehicle fire holds highway traffic 

    20210222 135229COURTESY PHOTO Vehicle fire holds highway traffic 

    By Brian Besch

    A large vehicle fire held traffic on the county's main thoroughfare for nearly an hour Monday.

    After rear-trailer tandem brakes overheated and ignited, the tires of a tractor-trailer caught fire around 1:45 p.m. The vehicle's driver was able to unhook the trailer, as it burned on a Highway 59 overpass across from Livingston Junior High.

    "All eight tires were involved and with all the heat, it caused the trailer to buckle," Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said. "With all the tires on fire and some of the materials inside, it took a little time to get it all knocked out."

    An engine and two tankers responded from the Livingston Fire Department. Also on the scene were Livingston Police, Department of Public Safety, the Polk County Sheriff's Department, Texas Department of Transportation and City of Livingston Public Utilities.

    The trailer was hauling polyethylene plastic polymer resin, a non-hazardous material.

    "The packaging burned and also some of the product as the heat intensified," Cochran said. "We were delayed just a couple of minutes researching what was in the truck before we made any fire control attempt. We needed to make sure it wasn't something that was water reactive. When we got those doors open, you could immediately see about a third of the way into the trailer."

    Traffic was blocked for around 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze and a small grass fire that began nearby. Officers diverted traffic into downtown and the highway's feeder road.

    Livingston also assisted the Corrigan Fire Department with nine firefighters and two trucks around 9:45 a.m. Saturday at a residence just off Highway 59.

    On Collins Street, 11 Corrigan firefighters and three engines responded to the nearby house.

    "It was pretty significant," Corrigan Fire Chief Jimmy McDonald said of the damage. "It's a total loss. It had a good jump on us before we ever got there. We were all in the truck headed to hand out some water that day to the area. The call dropped when we were all in the truck. We didn't even need an address because you could see the smoke when we pulled out of the station. It had been burning for a little bit before someone called."

    No one was at the residence at the time of the fire and no injury was reported.

    McDonald took over the Corrigan Fire Department about a year ago and has several new members. The chief said they are looking for others to join.

    "We're always looking for people," he said. "Anybody interested in joining up can come by the fire station on Monday night at 6 p.m. and pick up an application."

  • Wreck claims young Colmesneil woman

    blue light 73088 960 720FILE PHOTO Blue Light

    By Chris Edwards

    SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY – A multiple-vehicle crash in San Augustine County left a young Colmesneil woman dead, another seriously injured and a community in mourning.

    According to the crash report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday evening, at approximately 5:45 p.m., a Kia passenger car was northbound along FM 1277, and failed to yield to the right-of-way from a stop sign and headed into the path of an eastbound vehicle on state highway 103. The driver of the Kia was identified by DPS as 18-year-old Lacy Reynolds of Colmesneil, and she was pronounced dead at the scene by a San Augustine Justice of the peace. A passenger in the vehicle, Kaitlyn Byrum, 17, of Colmesneil, was transported via helicopter to a hospital in Tyler.

    The driver of the other vehicle involved in the fatal crash, identified as Joe Worry, a 37-year-old San Augustine man, was transported to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital in Lufkin for treatment. There is no report on Worry’s condition, but sources indicate that Byrum has undergone tests and is showing some improvement.

    While investigators with DPS were investigating the crash, a Freightliner tractor truck semi-trailer was eastbound and, according to the report, took evasive action to avoid the crash, and left the roadway, striking a parked pickup truck.

    The news of Reynolds’ passing sent shockwaves through her hometown. The 18-year-old recent graduate of Colmesneil High School was involved in the community and a myriad of extracurricular activities in school. She was the 2019 CHS Homecoming Queen and represented Colmesneil as a Dogwood Princess last year.

    Reynolds was attending Stephen F. Austin State University, majoring in business, where she’d recently been named to the President’s List. Her mother, Chrissy Reynolds, in a public social media post following the crash urged everyone to pray for Byrum, her cousin, and stated that although the family’s “hearts are completely shattered,” the family and friends know that Lacy “is walking those streets of gold.”

    Several events that were scheduled for CISD were canceled or postponed in light of the crash. The crash remains under investigation by DPS.