Thursday, February 10, 2011
Winter weather issues continue
By SUE WATSON
Just to be on the safe side, Marshall Academy and the Marshall County schools closed soon after opening Monday due to threats of snow and a big swing in cold weather.
School officials said it is better to be safe than sorry.
Diane Greer, elementary principal at Marshall Academy, said the school decided to close at 10 a.m. after concerned parents began calling the school upon hearing that Marshall County was sending its students home.
“We had to make a decision,” Greer said. “If it got bad, it was going to get bad fast and the temps were dropping fast. The phones were just ringing off the wall. We had to make a judgement call. – better safe than sorry. You can’t second guess the weather.”
Over at the county superintendent’s office, Don Randolph, still cautious after a bus was hit Friday on the way to school, said he dismissed students Monday morning after getting a concerned call from DeSoto County School District Superintendent Milton Kuykendall.
“We checked the area at 5 a.m. and called our scouts and there was nothing anywhere,” Randolph said. “At 8:30 a.m. Milton Kuykendall called and said, ‘Don, we’ve got a blizzard here and we are going home.’ ”
The temperature was expected to drop off to freezing by noon and water was on the roads in DeSoto County and some water on roads in Marshall.
“Milton called again and he said his transportation supervisor had reported two accidents in the area,” Randolph said. “There was still a light snow and it was freezing on the trees there. We made the call and we have to live with it. We wanted to get ’em home.”
Randolph said the district was very fortunate there were no serious injuries February 4 when a school bus crossing the Tippah River bridge was hit by a Ford Ranger carrying two students headed to classes at Northwest Community College.
He said he had checked the weather three times before 6 a.m. Friday and his scouts reported bridges were clear of ice. There were no closings in Tate or Benton counties, he said. Superintendents always check in with each other when concerned about weather, he said.
“I had scouts and I checked myself around 6:15 a.m.. There was no ice and no closings in the region,” he said. “Forty-five minutes later the bus driver, who had already passed over the bridge safely, came back over the bridge. It had rained and the rain had frozen.”
The bus driver tried to direct the bus into the other lane when he saw he was going to be hit by the Ranger, he said. The bus was hit on the right side near the passenger exit.
Students were taken to their respective schools and checked by school nurses. One student had a nose bleed and the other a busted lip. The two in the Ford Ranger were transported to a hospital in Tupelo. One of the Northwest students had a broken ankle and femur, Randolph said. The other was not injured.
The school bus driver was not injured. The superintendent said the school bus will probably be totaled by the insurance company when the damage assessment is made. The little Ford Ranger was also likely to be totaled, he said.
The district is very fortunate there were no life-threatening injuries, he said.
And Randolph was both relieved and grateful.
“We always know we’ve got a Co-Pilot,” Randolph said.
All eyes are now peeled for another snow system expected in by Wednesday of this week with cold temperatures to be continuing through Thursday and Friday, Randolph said.
Patrol car accidents
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department reported two wrecks of patrol cars last week.
One wreck was during a high-speed chase in the northern portion of the county. The other was Friday at the bridge on Highway 7 South in the Waterford community.
Officer Rick Preciado was working an accident at the bridge at Waterford. His patrol car was parked off the highway while he worked the wreck caused by slick ice accumulation. Another driver crossing the bridge lost control of a vehicle and slid into Preciado’s patrol car, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson. The patrol car can be repaired.
The other patrol car being driven by deputy Will Wilson was totaled when the officer lost control in a curve on Knox Road and hit a tree Thursday around 2 a.m., he said.
The individual under pursuit was a resident of Tennessee, he said.
Operators of a business near Mt. Pleasant called 911 to report an alleged domestic dispute, Dickerson said. The suspect was alleged to be chasing a woman around the service station and attempting to ram her vehicle with his own.
Deputy Mike Garner responded to the call and got a description of the vehicle. Officer Wilson was attempting to assist deputy Garner and Garner spotted a vehicle fitting the description in the area near the call.
Garner attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle without success.Wilson was attempting to catch up with and assist Garner when he lost control of his vehicle on Knox Road near the Fayette/Marshall County line. Wilson was unfamiliar with the area, Dickerson said.
Wilson was transported to Baptist Collierville Hospital and released about 5 a.m.
Garner and Shelby County deputies later located the vehicle behind a residence in the Collierville, Tenn., area and attempted to make contact with anyone at the residence. No one answered the door.
The identity of the suspect was determined at that time. Later a retired Memphis police officer who knew the family was asked to help get the young man’s father to contact the sheriff’s office. The father brought his son in a few days later. The son made bond and a future court date was arranged, Dickerson said.
The suspect, Alvis T. Miller Jr., of the Collierville area, is charged with careless and reckless driving and felony fleeing a law officer, according to Sheriff Dickerson.
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