HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County first responders were dispatched Tuesday, March 3, to a motor vehicle accident in the vicinity of Upper Bell Creek and Bell Creek Road in Hiawassee at 7:43 a.m.
A middle-aged male sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, GA by ambulance after the SUV that he was driving rolled off an embankment, bordering Lake Chatuge.
Motorists traveling on State Route 75 North experienced a traffic delay as crews worked to retrieve the vehicle. FYN issued a travel advisory via social media shortly after the incident occurred.
It is uncertain if weather conditions were a factor, as heavy rain was falling in Hiawassee at the time of the accident.
Georgia State Patrol is investigating the incident.
Tuesday’s accident was the second rollover crash in Towns County in less than a week, with a Friday incident reported on State Route 76 in Young Harris.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – First responders from Towns County and White County were dispatched shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, to what proved to be a fatal crash occurring on State Route 75 South in the vicinity of Unicoi Gap.
The minivan involved in the incident was reported to FYN as located off an east embankment and fully engulfed in flames at the time firefighters arrived on the scene, forcing extrication and a temporary road closure.
One patient was transported via ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville for trauma care. A second victim sustained fatal injuries as a result of the accident.
The deadly crash is under investigation by Georgia State Patrol.
FYN is awaiting additional information, including the identity of the deceased, from authorities at this time.
UPDATE: The driver of the 2003 Town and County Chrysler minivan was identified as Leisa Johnson, 62, of Macon, GA. Johnson was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries for emergency care. Passenger Ralph Doolittle, 58, of Macon, sadly perished on scene.
State Route 75 South extends through Towns and White counties, connecting the cities of Helen and Hiawassee while rising to an elevation of 2,949 feet.
Unicoi Gap was the approximate site of an Oct. 16 motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of an 83-year-old Hiawassee resident.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – An accident on State Route 75 South claimed the life of Hiawassee resident Glyn “Dale” Pollard, 83, on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Towns County 911 dispatched first responders shortly after 8 p.m. to an area approximately one mile north of Unicoi Gap following a report of a vehicle off the roadway, located approximately 30-feet down a steep embankment.
Pollard was pronounced deceased on the scene. Georgia State Patrol is investigating the deadly crash.
Pollard was traveling northbound toward Hiawassee at the time that the fatal accident occurred. Due to the absence of visible brake marks on the roadway, authorities believe that Pollard may have suffered a heart attack prior to impact.
Hundreds took to social media in the days following Pollard’s death, offering condolences and sharing memories of the well-known Hiawasssee resident and member of Macedonia Baptist Church. “Dale loved people; he was funny and fun to be around. He was known to say, ‘You may not like me, but you will never forget me,'” Pollard’s obituary reads in part.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – A motorcycle fatality occurred shortly before 10 a.m. this morning, Oct. 4, on State Highway 17 N near the Sunoco gas station at the Georgia-North Carolina state line.
The accident was reported as a two-vehicle collision.
Georgia State Patrol is en route to investigate the fatal accident at this time.
Authorities advised that Highway 17 N is expected to be closed to traffic until at least 11 a.m.
Traffic should divert via 339 through the Industrial Park.
Follow FYN for additional details as they become available.
UPDATE: Highway 17 N re-opened to traffic at approximately 11:30 a.m..
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Several motorcycle accidents have occurred in Towns County in recent months, with a crash occurring Saturday afternoon on State Route 76. A 46 year old male suffered serious injuries following a single vehicle collision Sept. 17, east of Hiawassee. The motorcyclist was airlifted by medical helicopter to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, GA for trauma care.
While the weekend accident did not involve a second vehicle, other crashes have been the result of multi-vehicle collisions this season. On June 27, a motorcyclist on State Highway 75 South attempted to pass a turning vehicle when an accident ensued, resulting in severe trauma to the biker. A local motorcyclist suffered fatal injuries following a two-vehicle collision Aug. 13 on U.S. Route 76, west of Hiawassee.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. “The motorcycle itself provides no head injury protection to the rider or passenger,” NHTSA explains. “Ejection from the motorcycle is a common injury pathway. If a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop and the rider is ejected from the motorcycle, the rider will forcibly strike objects in the path as well as the ground.”
A total of 264 motorcyclists lost their lives on Georgia roadways in 2018 due to traffic accidents.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A 16 month old toddler suffered burn injuries this morning after falling into a campfire at Enotah Mountain Retreat on State Route 180.
Towns County first responders were dispatched to the accident site shortly after 11 am, Sunday, Sept. 1. The child sustained scattered burn injuries, primarily to the arm region.
The toddler was airlifted by medical helicopter to the burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta for emergency treatment.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw plans to take the fight for a center-turning lane on U.S. 76, west of Hiawassee, to Atlanta next week where the commissioner will meet with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and State Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Russell McMurry to discuss the pertinent topic. Bradshaw has persistently pushed for the lane addition since taking office, campaigning on a promise to make Towns County’s main highway safer for motorists.
Bradshaw’s decision to press the issue at the State Capitol came prior to the recent death of Randy Barnes Sr., a Hiawassee motorcyclist who lost his life following an Aug. 13 accident in the area of highest safety concern, the stretch of roadway in the vicinity of Papa’s Pizza.
“I’m going to plead our case,” Commissioner Bradshaw told FYN on Tuesday. “It’s a life or death situation. It causes great concern and getting something done is a promise that I plan to keep. We’re going to the top and we’re going to push hard.”
According to district research conducted by the Department of Transportation, the task of widening the highway could prove to be a difficult feat. With Lake Chatuge bordering U.S. 76 to the north, and steep embankments on the southern slope, issues with construction logistics were cited by the department in April 2018. While it may be possible to install turning lanes in critical areas, a continuous stretch of center roadway may not be feasible. “We’ll be happy with that, but that’s not what we want,” Bradshaw said.
Citizens continued to speak out on the danger surrounding the portion of highway in question, following the recent fatality, taking to social media to make their concerns known.
UPDATED, Aug. 26: Tomorrow’s meeting between Commissioner Bradshaw and Governor Kemp has been postponed due to a funeral that the governor will attend. Bradshaw reported that the meeting will soon be rescheduled.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A two vehicle accident claimed the life of Hiawassee resident Randy Barnes, 59, during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Aug. 14. Barnes was traveling on his motorcycle on State Route 76, Aug. 13, when an employee exiting the parking lot of Papa’s Pizza collided with the victim.
Barnes suffered extensive injuries upon impact, and was transported Tuesday afternoon via medical helicopter to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville for trauma care.
Georgia State Patrol is investigating the fatal accident.
Mr. Barnes’s obituary reads:
Randy was born February 14, 1960 to Lula Bell (Arrowood) Barnes and the late Van Barnes. Randy is what most would call a “Salt of the Earth Man”. You rarely saw him without his cowboy boots, hat, cellphone and his sunglasses. He loved his family including his dog Ella; he and his wife, Lorene were happily married for 39 years, raised two children who then blessed them with grandchildren. He loved being a grandfather, was fun, and lived to entertain his grandchildren and all children really. Randy was a hardworking man who was devoted to his work and loved his coworkers at Southwire like family. He was a social butterfly, never met a stranger and made friends everywhere. In fact most mornings he would meet a few coworkers at Main Street Grill for a biscuit and if he was not going to be there he would call and let them know they didn’t need to make his biscuit that day. When he was not enjoying his normal biscuit you could find him at the hospital cafeteria complimenting the cooks on their cooking, especially their biscuits and gravy. He loved to ride his motorcycle, hunt, fish and watch sports whether it was the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs or his grandkids playing. Randy was a happy man as long as his family was happy. He and Lorene enjoyed just sitting on their porch listening to country or gospel music until Lorene told him to put on his earphones. Randy is preceded in death by his father Van Barnes and his brother Jeff Barnes. He is survived in death by his wife Lorene Barnes; mother Lula Bell Barnes; daughter and son-in-law Nikisha and Bradley Clampitt of Hayesville, NC; son Randy Barnes; brother and sister-in-law Tim and Delores Barnes of Hiawassee; brother Danny Barnes of Hiawassee; sister and brother-in-law Lecia and Robin Bryan of Hayesville, NC, Kathie and Dave Griffin of Alpharetta, GA and Sandra and the late Lester Craig of Hiawassee; grandchildren Natalie Barnes, Briley Clampitt, Brody Clampitt, and Lily Clampitt; and a number of nieces and nephews. Also surviving are many friends that will dearly miss him.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – An early morning accident claimed the life of a 41 year old male delivery truck driver on State Route 76 near Frog Pond Road, west of Hiawassee city limits. First responders were dispatched to the scene of the single vehicle accident at 6:31 am, Saturday, Aug. 3.
The driver was traveling eastbound, toward Ingles in Hiawassee, when the commercial vehicle crossed the westbound lane of traffic, colliding with a pole. Skid marks were not apparent on the roadway, suggesting that the driver did not appear to brake prior to impact.
The cause of the fatal crash is under investigation by Georgia State Patrol at this time.
UPDATE: The driver of the vehicle was identified as Matthew Eggley of Hayesville, NC.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – It has been a day shy of two weeks since a fatal accident took the life of Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers, and FYN has been on special assignment, tracking developments in the tragic case. A grandmother and her granddaughter continue to suffer heartbreaking effects of the deadly crash, and a good samaritan who heroically attempted to prevent the harm faces the lingering aftermath of that horrific night.
Heather Segars, the 911 caller heard pleading for help in disturbing audio released by FYN, met in person with Towns County’s reporter on March 8.
Segars recounted the graphic detail of Feb. 23, a night that remains all too vivid in her mind. Segars said that she was traveling home from work on State Route 76, west of Hiawassee, when she was nearly run off the road by a white Toyota pickup truck. The soft spoken woman was visibly shaken as she described the intense fear experienced that eventful Saturday night. Segars has since entered psychological therapy, and relayed that she has been prescribed a mild sedative in order to help cope with the trauma.
Segars continues to suffer deep guilt, and said that she cannot help but wonder if she had not identified the impaired driver as Terry Silvers, perhaps Towns County Sheriff’s Office would have responded to her call. “I want people to know that I tried,” Segars said in a somber tone. “If Towns County Sheriff’s Office had done their job, not just the night that he died, but the night before, and the times before that, Terry might still be alive, and no one else would have been hurt.”
Terry Silvers, a known opioid user, was involved in one of numerous accidents in Towns County the the night prior to his death, and several witnesses, including a veteran law enforcement officer from a neighboring county, reported Silvers’ to seem unmistakenly under the influence, unfit to drive. Despite Silvers’ reported condition, Silvers was released without facing charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office after an alcohol sensor and roadside test were conducted. The cause of the accident was listed by the sheriff’s office as shifting firewood in the bed of Silvers’ truck.
Sadly, twenty four hours after the incident, Silvers was dead, and many lives were drastically altered. In spite of Heather Segars steadfast effort to summon help, that help never arrived. In the troubling 911 audio tape, a sheriff’s office patrol siren can be heard racing to another call, leaving Segars heart wrenching pleas for assistance unanswered.
Two additional victims face repercussion from Silvers’ turned-fatal crash.
Tracie Stewart and her 13 year old granddaughter, Tathem, were traveling south on NC-69 in Clay County, NC, on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23, a night that Stewart says will haunt her memory forever. Stewart was driving her granddaughter to Chevelle’s Restaurant, just north of the Georgia state line, to meet with friends when tragedy struck.
Stewart recalled seeing a black car suddenly brake in front of her, darting into the turning lane, while thinking that it had rear-ended another vehicle. The grandmother tells FYN that she, too, swiftly applied her brakes. “I saw the headlights right in front of me,” Stewart said. “It happened so quick, there was nothing that I could do.” As Stewart relived the fateful night, she described the accident as one of sheer terror. “I felt my arm snap like a twig. Tathem was yelling ‘Mimi, my legs are broke.'” Stewart and her granddaughter were transported to Union General Hospital in Blairsville, GA. “I discovered not only was my hand and wrist crushed, but I also had a lacerated liver and spleen,” Stewart said.
Stewart was later transported to North Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville for specialized treatment. Stewart has since faced three arm surgeries, losing 3.5 inches of bone, and a medical pin was placed in her fractured foot. Fortunately, Stewart says that her granddaughter, Tathem, did not suffer major, physical injuries.
“When FYN released the 911 tape, it was horrific to listen to,” Stewart expressed. “That’s where my anger really kicked in. When (Terry) was in the parking lot of Cornerstone, when you can hear the deputy passing, and Heather (the 911 caller) was begging and pleading for an officer to pull into the Cornerstone and put him into custody… I’m not sure if my ‘rewind’ button will ever be broken as this replays in my mind. I see Terry’s face on the windshield. I think that Towns County Sheriff’s Office could have done totally different to prevent this from ever happening, not to mention that in the past, they have let (Terry) go on multiple occasions.”
FYN has contacted Towns County Sheriff’s Office repeatedly, offering opporunities to respond to the tragedy. Towns County Sheriff’s Office has not replied to our requests for comment.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FYN uncovered troubling new details leading to the Feb. 23 accident that left one man dead, two victims injured, and a 911 caller in need of trauma therapy.
On the evening of Terry Silvers’ fatal crash, an unresponsive be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) was issued by Towns County 911 to Towns County Sheriff’s Office. In the dispatched audio recently released by FYN, a siren can be heard passing a 911 caller who pursued Silvers’ vehicle into North Carolina, initiating an urgent call for law enforcement’s help.
FYN recently discovered that the same Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy who did not respond to the turned-fatal BOLO was the deputy who released Silvers the night before tragedy struck. Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Greg Joseph, also known as 112, bypassed the frantic 911 caller in order to respond to a possible prowler on Clark Drive in eastern Towns County. Deputy “112” released Silvers the previous night following an accident on Bugscuffle Road in Hiawassee.
FYN received inside information that Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 116, Eddie Spradlin, the county officer heard chastising the 911 dispatcher for issuing the BOLO on the released tape, requested the specific assistance of Hiawassee Police Department in response to the possible prowler. Towns County Sheriff’s Office dual, on-duty deputies were assigned to eastern and western zones.
A Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Hiawassee Police Department officer were already on scene, actively clearing the residence, at the time the unanswered BOLO was issued for Silvers’ vehicle, prior to the deadly accident.
According to a local newspaper, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton stated that Deputy 112 Joseph was responding to provide back-up for the “only other deputy on duty,” referencing the possible prowler call as the reason that the BOLO was ignored. What Sheriff Clinton failed to mention was that not one, but two law enforcement officers were already on scene, securing the residence. “While we cannot possibly be there in time to prevent every tragedy, our deputies do a superb job of protecting our community with the resources available,” the sheriff is quoted as saying in the March 6 publication, “They perform their duties at the highest levels of professionalism, and they care deeply about our community and the safety of all citizens.”
While FYN remains strong advocates of law enforcement, FYN’s questions concerning the Silvers’ case remain unanswered by Towns County Sheriff’s Office.
On March 8, Sheriff Clinton published Deputy 112 Joseph’s body camera footage from Silvers’ Bugscuffle accident on the evening prior to the fatal crash. Despite testimonies from witnesses claimimg that Silvers’ was clearly in no condition to drive, Silvers was released without charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office. As previously reported by FYN, multiple individuals have come forth to claim that Silvers was repeatedly released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office despite evident impairment following numerous accidents. In combination with widespread knowledge of Silvers’ opioid use, citizens are questioning why law enforcement failed to take a proactive role. In the published footage, Deputy 112 Joseph states that he has responded to accidents involving Silvers in the past while the tow truck operator on scene later questions Silvers’ sobriety. “Mr. Silvers, how many wrecks you going to have on this road?” the deputy asked. Silvers was administered an alcohol sensor and horizonal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, and released without charges the night prior to his death.
FYN discovered that Silvers was arrested in May 2008, by Hiawassee Police Department for driving under the influence of opioids. According to the arrest report, former Hiawassee Chief Jimmy Wright performed a HGN test which Silvers failed. In the report, the late chief stated that Silvers exhibited evident disorientation and slurred speech.
In a social media post attached to the body camera footage, Sheriff Clinton stated in relation to the unresponsive BOLO that never was “a judgement call made by anyone employed by, supervised by, or otherwise under the control or responsibility of the Sheriff of Towns County.” Clinton seemingly shifted blame to Towns County 911, causing online outrage in response.
An administrator with Towns County Sheriff’s Office added comments concerning the department’s need for back-up without acknowledging the fact that a Hiawassee Police Department officer was on scene. In addition, the sheriff’s administrator provided an informational link in a seeming attempt to disassociate the sheriff’s office from Towns County 911. UPDATE: Following the release of this article, the sheriff’s administrator deleted comments made.
In accordance with state law, FYN filed a simple, open records request with Towns County Sheriff’s Office March 6 for the written report on the prowler incident. Towns County Sheriff’s Office replied that due to increased prisioner transport to the courthouse, the department’s road patrol lieutenant and captain had not yet approved the report, and that it will not be available for release until as late as March 15.
Georgia’s Open Records Act allows a maximum of 72 hours for delivery of public records, or a viable reason as to why they cannot be produced.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to FYN’s requests for comment on Silvers’ case.
WSB-TV and 11 Alive news in Atlanta have taken interest in FYN’s investigation.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – New discoveries have surfaced surrounding the death of Terry Samuel Silvers, a 52 year old Hiawassee resident who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23, in Clay County, N.C. Additional witnesses have come forth on Silvers’ behalf, attesting to Silvers’ condition on the evening preceding his death. Furthermore, FYN uncovered the circumstances surrounding the unresponsive, emergency call issued to Towns County Sheriff’s Office the following night.
FYN released information three days after Silvers’ passing, exposing that Silvers had been involved in a vehicle accident on Bugscuffle Road in Towns County, the night prior to the fatal crash. Towns County Sheriff’s Office’s accident report, which was submitted to FYN by a third-party, stated that alcohol and substance screenings were not conducted by law enforcement Feb. 22. FYN since learned that alcohol testing was, in fact, administered to Silvers by the responding deputy.
Terry Silvers was traveling south on Bugscuffle Road when his vehicle entered into the oncoming lane of traffic, colliding with a roadside fence. The accident report states that shifting firewood in the bed of Silvers’ truck contributed to the collision. FYN contacted the owner of the property damaged in the incident, Daren “Bear” Osborn, a veteran law enforcement officer from a neighboring county.
Osborn told FYN that he was present when Towns County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene, and asserted that despite alcohol testing conducted on the now-deceased, Silvers, in his observation, should not have been behind the wheel Feb. 22.
“I didn’t smell alcohol, but based on my training and experience, 32 years, I recognized (Terry) was in no shape to drive due to his condition,” the off-duty deputy explained, “What strikes me as odd is that an alco sensor and HGN was done which does not indicate drug use.” Osborn described Silvers as exhibiting confused behavior while showing evident signs of impaired judgment.
“Alco sensors” are commonly known as breathalizers. HGN, horizantal gaze nystagmus, is a standardized field sobriety test for alcohol-induced impairment.
John Bagley, Osborn’s neighbor, agreed that Silvers was unfit to drive. “(Terry) wrecked right across from my house,” Bagley said. “He was in no shape to be driving. I think there should have been additional tests done. It could have saved his life.”
Throughout the week following Silvers’ death, FYN spoke with over a dozen individuals who relayed that Silvers was a known opioid user with a long history of accidents. Family, friends, and neighbors claimed that Silvers had been released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office on multiple occasions without facing charges.
Terra Silvers, the daugter of Terry Silvers, contacted FYN through our website. “My father, Terry Silvers, had to lose his life due to lack of effort on behalf of Towns County Sheriff’s Office…,” Silvers wrote, “It’s just not fair. They are to protect and serve, but instead they want to let those that are under the influence go. All I can say is I’m really going to miss my dad. He was a good man, respectful, and would help anyone with anything he could. He didn’t deserve this.”
Numerous, additional family members, citizens, and unaffiliated law enforcement officers relayed that Terry Silvers was known to suffer from addiction, with many adding that Silvers’ case was not an isolated incident. One citizen shared her thoughts in the comment section of a previous article published by FYN. “Sad, but there are so many more examples of the TCSO (Towns County Sheriff’s Office) being ‘easy’ on local addicts…,” the remark reads.
On Feb. 23, the evening following the Bugscuffle Road accident, Silvers was traveling west of Hiawassee on Highway 76, when a good samaritan placed a 911 call to Towns County emergency dispatch upon witnessing a white Toyota pickup truck driving recklessly. Heather Segars, a local resident, pursued whom she soon identified as Silvers. pleading for law enforcement to respond to the turned-fatal incident.
As Segars followed Silvers into the parking lot of Cornerstore BP, a gas station at the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 17, a siren can be heard in the 911 audio, passing the distraught caller. FYN learned that Towns County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a possible prowler off Highway 75, the road that leads to Helen, GA. Two officers had arrived on scene at the residence on Clark Drive at the time the be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) was issued to Towns County Sheriff’s Office. The initial, responding officers cleared the residence, with no disturbance found.
After deliberation and close consultation with the Silvers’ family, along with conversations with the traumatized 911 caller, FYNTV.com released the Feb. 23 emergency audio to allow the public to hear the disturbing interaction firsthand. The Silvers’ family and good samaritan maintain that Towns County Sheriff’s Office could have prevented the Feb. 23 fatality. FYNTV attached a recording of a phone call between a Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy and the 911 dispatcher that took place shortly after the deadly crash occurred, revealing the Towns County deputy chastising the dispatcher for issuing the BOLO.
FYN contacted Towns County Sheriff’s Office prior to the release of previous articles pertaining to Terry Silvers’ death, offering opportunity to issue a statement on behalf of the department. Towns County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to FYN’s request.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – FYN has confirmed the identity of the victim in yesterday’s tragic accident on Young Harris mountain on Highway 76 West.
Stan Lee, 66, of Young Harris suffered fatal injuries Wednesday, Feb. 27, after a vehicle collided with the bicyclist.
According to emergency responders dispatched to the scene, it is believed that Lee may have swerved to avoid an object in his path prior to being stuck by the approaching vehicle. Charges were not filed against the motorist involved, and the Georgia State Patrol investigation has concluded.
FYN was unable to locate an online presence for Mr. Lee.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Near-death experiences have a way of directing lives toward a destiny that was unknown prior to the encounter, and coupled with a spiritual revelation, the results can be profound. That proved to be the case for Dr. Anthony Sirianni. For the first time in 16 years, the criminal justice professor from North Georgia Technical College publicly shared his story of a second chance at life, at the hands of an angel, with the Mountain Movers and Shakers, Friday, May 3, 2019.
Dr. Sirianni moved to sunny Sarasota at the age of 18 by a test a faith. The now-professor told the story of how he closed his happy-go-lucky eyes and pressed a push pin toward a map of Florida, soon to set path on a journey far from home. Anthony knew from the tender age of six what he wanted to become some day; a police officer, a knowing built from a childhood experience when a small town chief helped the lost and fearful boy find his way home. Anthony’s 28 year career in law enforcement began as a corrections officer at the Sarasota County Detention Center, graduating to patrolling the streets of Florida’s west coast at the age of 21. Life was good, and life pressed on.
On the evening of Feb. 8, 2003, at two minutes before midnight, however, the K-9 officer’s life was forever changed. Anthony was driving his patrol vehicle, during what he thought would be a routine shift, when he saw headlights quickly approaching in his lane of traffic. The head-on collision was so fierce that the engine block of his assigned Chevrolet Tahoe was launched through the windshield. The intoxicated driver of the oncoming vehicle had suffered the repercussions of her third DUI.
As Professor Sirianni recounted what followed, the audience at Sundance Grill sat spellbound by his emotive words. Though physically unconcious, Anthony vividly recalled an unseen force taking hold of his shoulders, pulling him from the mangled wreckage, while hearing the phrase, “It’s not time.” The officer was laid to rest by the spirit in a patch of nearby bushes, and witnessed the arrival of first responders. Firefighters hung their heads, looking down upon his battered body in sorrow, telling one another that there was no way that the K-9 officer could possibly survive. “I wasn’t ejected,” Tony explained, stiffling sentiment. “How did I get out of the car?”
Anthony’s first thoughts were of his canine, and throughout the out-of body experience, the officer recalled pleading with medical crews to tend to his beloved dog, Amazingly, Anthony’s partner suffered but a fractured tail. Anthony was less fortunate, however, enduring months of painful surgeries to heal his shattered bones. Throughout his recovery, Anthony knew with doubt that his life had been spared to serve a greater purpose, and he knew he must venture on. In 2015, the officer retired from active law enforcement, attended college, and earned an eventual doctorate’s degree. The cop turned criminal justice professor believes, heart and soul, that his life was “saved to touch lives.” Anthony recounted an example of a drug addicted woman who once begged for treatment as he served as a narcotic sergeant, prior to retirement. The officer answered the addict’s plea for change, and reported that the woman successfully turned her life around, passing forward the grace that she was granted.
Dr. Sirianni explained that his newfound purpose exceeded law enforcement and teaching criminal justice, however. “We’re here to care for each other. It’s beyond partisanship. It’s beyond politics,” the professor confided. Anthony concluded his talk by adding that police officers are stigmatized as tough and unwilling to share their vunerable sides with all but their inner circle. While Anthony struggled to repress rightful emotion while expressing his experience, the professor relayed that it was a story that needed to be told.
Questions from the attentive group followed, with one guest asking what could be done to lessen the negative press associated with law enforcement officers in this day and age. The teacher replied in part, “There’s so much (good) that doesn’t make the paper.”
The collective mood was measurable as the weekly meeting adjourned, with guests commenting to one another on how fascinating the subject matter had been. Friends could be overheard discussing their own past encounters with angels. One thing is for certain, lives were altered that May morning as a result of hearing Anthony’s truth
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A construction truck hauling asphalt overturned while headed eastbound from Hiawassee, near Abe Cove Road on State Route 76, shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.
Towns County Fire and Rescue reported that the driver did not sustain significant injuries, adding that the accident was likely due to muddy conditions on the shoulder of the roadway.
Hiawassee Police Department informed that State Route 76 will be temporarily closed to through traffic while the truck is removed. At 2:02 p.m. traffic was reported as backed up for approximately one mile, eastbound.
UPDATED: Traffic began flowing at approximately 2:45 p.m.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Earlier this afternoon, Wednesday, Feb. 27, a 66-year-old local bicyclist was struck and killed by a motorist while traveling west on Highway 76, in the vicinity of Young Harris mountain.
According to Towns County emergency responders dispatched to the scene, it appeared that the man may have slightly swerved into traffic to avoid something in his path when the approaching vehicle collided.
The next of kin is the process of notification at this time.
A law enforcement source tells FYN that no charges were filed against the motorist.
FYN will provide additional details as they become available.