HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The death of Terry Silvers, a Hiawassee resident who was killed in a fatal accident early last year, appears fresh in the minds of many Towns County citizens as the 2020 sheriff’s campaign cycle advances. Mark Silvers, the brother of the famed victim, responded to an announcement of Cpl. Lisa Joseph‘s bid for sheriff, connecting the candidate to her husband, Cpl. Greg Joseph, the Towns County deputy who drew widespread media attention due to his involvement, or lack thereof, in Silvers’ tragic death.
The deadly crash, which many believe could have been prevented by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, left a 911 caller who witnessed the accident emotionally scarred, and a grandmother and grandchild injured.
In response to Mark Silvers’ disapproval of Deputy Lisa Joseph’s candidacy, Crystal Clinton – the wife of retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton – lashed out on FYN’s social media, holding the victim’s grieving brother accountable for Terry Silvers’ demise. “Why didn’t you stop him? YOU are the person responsible for his death,” the sheriff’s wife emphasized. Members of the victim’s family, as well as others, reacted with shock to the elected official wife’s callous remark, telling FYN that the comment caused anguish.
Ms. Clinton caused a similar reaction from Silvers’ family and friends in November, changing her social media profile image to a photograph of the victim, adding that it was meant for those so “concerned.”
Furthermore, Ms. Clinton referenced a live interview conducted by FYN with Mark Silvers shortly after his brother’s death. During the interview, Silvers stated that while he knew that his brother was in no condition to drive on the evening of his death, and advised him not to leave the residence, his now-deceased brother was defiant. “I figured if I called the law on him, they’d let him go again,” Silvers told FYN last spring, referencing multiple occasions that the sheriff’s office had released his drug-addicted sibling without charges.
This is not the first time that Sheriff Clinton’s wife has made headlines, however, with Ms. Clinton falsely accusing an appointed official of being a convicted felon last fall, along with defamatory allegations fired at a contender in the sheriff’s race.
Furthermore, numerous individuals – some of whom served as officers under Sheriff Clinton’s leadership – have questioned the agenda of two Towns County sheriff deputies who have recently announced candidacy for Office of Sheriff in the 2020 election. While both candidates have received support, others believe that their bid may be an extension of the retiring sheriff’s ruffled reign, with Ms. Clinton’s recent outburst seemingly solidifying the concept in their minds.
On Jan. 13, FYN requested an interview with Towns County Capt. Jim Couch, who announced his bid for sheriff last week. The sheriff’s candidate declined, stating that he did not want to “get in the middle” of unrelated controversy surrounding the highly-contested sheriff’s race at this time. Towns County Cpl. Lisa Joseph has not responded to FYN’s invitation to interview.
Sheriff’s candidate Linda Curtis expressed disapproval over the handling of the Silvers’ case by the agency during a Jan. 7 conversation with FYN, recalling that the Towns County Sheriff’s Office did not accept responsibility for their role in the incident nor alter its policies thereafter. Curtis added that Heather Cassidy Segars – the 911 caller who faced an online attack from Ms. Clinton following the notorious 2019 accident – should be “commended” for her heroic attempt to prevent the fatal collision.
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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 accident claimed the life of David Guy Bearden, 54, Friday, Oct. 4, shortly before 10 a.m. Bearden was traveling on State Highway 17 North near the Georgia-North Carolina state line when a vehicle exiting Woods Grove Road collided with the motorcyclist.
Bearden died upon impact.
According to officials, a senior female driving a Honda Civic was attempting to turn onto State Highway 17 North when the fatal collision occurred. The driver, Carol Mann, 77,, was charged with failure to yield while making a left turn and second degree involuntary manslaughter..
Georgia State Patrol investigated the deadly accident.
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. – Jacalyn Ann Gagnon, 68, was arrested and charged with homicide by vehicle in the 2nd degree Aug, 17 after an accident claimed the life of a local motorcyclist.
Gagnon, the owner and operator of Papa’s Pizza, was attempting to turn from U.S. 76 into the restaurant’s parking lot on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 13 when the vehicle she was driving collided with a motorcycle driven by 59 year old Randy Barnes of Hiawassee.
Barnes suffered severe trauma as a result of the crash, and was airlifted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center where he died during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Aug. 14.
Gagnon was additionally charged with failure to yield while turning left. The vehicular homicide charge is listed on the arrest report as a misdemeanor offense.
Georgia State Patrol investigated the fatal accident.
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. – Towns County Sheriff’s Office released a written statement March 13, continuing to distance itself from what many in the community believe was a preventable tragedy. On the evening of Feb. 23, Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers crashed his Toyota truck head-on into a vehicle on NC-69, seriously injuring a grandmother and psychologically-damaging her granddaugter. Silvers died upon impact. A 911 caller that pursued Silvers, pleading for unanswered assistance from law enforcement, remains traumatized by the horrific event.
In the ill-received statement to citizens, Towns County Sheriff’s Office provided a list of “facts” which include mileage statistics, information on a simultaneous call issued for a possible prowler in progress, and reminded that although the call for help originated in Georgia, the fatal accident occurred in North Carolina.
In the statement, Towns County Sheriff’s Office claims that a sheriff’s office deputy was not specifically assigned or dispatched to a reckless driver. “Towns 911 dispatch gave a lookout to any and all law enforcement officers who may have been in the area of Highway 76 and Highway 17 to be on the lookout for a reckless driver,” the statement reads. Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 112, Greg Joseph, however, was the sole deputy assigned to the area in question at the time that the transmitted emergency “lookout” for Silvers’ Toyota pickup was issued.
In addition, Towns County Sheriff’s Office states, “The horrifying details that can be heard on the 911 tape as the caller describes to the dispatcher the way the subject is driving was not given or described in the lookout.” In the embedded audio, Towns County 911 is heard relaying to law enforcement that a “small, white Toyota truck” is “reckless driving” and “pulling into the Cornerstone BP.” Dispatch verbalizes that the vehicle is said to be occupied by a “Silvers’ subject.”
Undisputed by those who have listened to the disturbing 911 audio is the fact that Deputy Joseph’s patrol siren can be heard bypassing the 911 caller in lieu of a possible prowler, an incident which two officers had covered.
Within the 911 audio , Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy 116 Eddie Spradlin, along with Hiawassee Police Officer 305 John Carter, voiced radio reponses to 911 dispatch in reference to the potential prowler on Clark Drive, prior to the fatal be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) for Silvers’ vehicle. Furthermore, Towns County 911 asks for the combined status of Deputy 116 and Officer 305 three separate times.
Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton claimed, however, that western-zoned Deputy Joseph was unaware that two officers had responded because “the city officer never advised the 911 Center by radio that he was enroute.” This “fact” is disproved by the audio embedded within this article. Hiawassee Police Department informed FYN that the city officer responded to the call to assist from Towns County Deputy Spradlin in order to shorten response time. The county deputy and city officer were actively clearing the residence at the time that the BOLO for Terry Silvers’ vehicle was issued.
A troubling detail which preceded the deadly accident is the fact that Silvers was released without charges the evening prior to the fatality by the same deputy who raced past Silvers’ vehicle the following day. Several witnesses, including a Union County deputy whose fence was damaged when Silvers’ truck veered off the roadway, attested that Silvers was clearly under the influence of intoxicants the night before his death. Records show that Silvers had a history of accidents, and despite widespread knowledge of drug use, the father of six was repeatedly released without charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office.
Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton posted Deputy Joseph’s body camera footage from Feb. 22 on the internet, causing widespread scrutiny in response to the handling of the incident. In the video, Silvers apologizes to the deputy for having to respond to the incident. “Well, I’d rather come out here and do this than having to pick your body up somewhere,” Deputy Joseph replied. “But you need to quit driving.” Approximately 24 hours later, Silvers was killed in the head-on collision.
Also questionable in the minds of the community was a released, recorded phone conversation between Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy 116 Eddie Spradlin – the eastern-zoned officer – and the 911 dispatcher, shaming the emergency operator for issuing a BOLO during the potential prowler incident. FYN published the controversial transmission along with the frantic 911 call for assistance last week.
“The Towns County deputies on duty and working on Feburary 23rd acted and responded appropriately as to the information that they had been given at the time,” Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton stated, offering condolences to Silvers’ family and sympathy toward the victims of the crash.
Due to overwhelming outcry, FYN remains on special assignment and will continue to actively investigate the circumstances surrounding Towns County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the tragic case.
Results of a toxicology report, ordered on Silvers by North Carolina Highway Patrol, are expected in coming weeks.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Three months have passed since a fatal crash took the life of Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers, leaving two victims injured, a 911 caller traumatized, and the citizens of Towns County questioning the responsibilty of the authorities involved in the controversial tragedy.
On the evening of Saturday, Feb.23, a “be-on-the-lookout” (BOLO) for a reckless driver was issued by Towns County 911 to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, a call that went unanswered by Corporal Gregory Joseph – the sole deputy assigned to that particular zone – shortly before the deadly collision occurred.
Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts recently spoke with FetchYourNews (FYN), clarifying the process employed by the emergency agency. “A BOLO is a BOLO,” Roberts explained. “There isn’t different levels of urgency. The dispatcher handled the Feb. 23 call correctly. The key was when the driver was identified as Silvers. We typically do not dispatch a subject’s name.”
Corporal Joseph had responded to an accident involving Silvers the previous night, allowing the father of six to leave the scene without facing charges, despite testimony from witnesses who claimed the now-deceased was obviously impaired. Silvers, who had a criminal record, was known by local law enforcement to suffer from drug addiction. Furthermore, an additional Silvers’ accident took place a few months prior, with the same deputy in question responding to a vehicle rollover.
Family members of Silvers, as well as the 911 caller, have publicly speculated that because Silvers was identified by dispatchers, Towns County Sheriff’s Office may have opted to disregard the turned-fatal BOLO.
Towns County’s 911 director emphasized that the deputy who bypassed the BOLO was not dispatched by 911 to the possible prowler call in the eastern zone, a call which was adequately covered by a second deputy and a Hiawassee police officer. Early into FYN’s investigation, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton denied departmental responsibility in a statement issued to the county’s legal organ, shifting focus toward Towns County 911. The sheriff has yet to answer questions posed by investigative reporters.
Although Towns County 911 is its own separate entity, Roberts said that the responsibility to alter the system lies within the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. “We dispatch according to the protocol the department sets,” Roberts stated. “We are always willing to improve.”
11Alive News in Atlanta is scheduled to broadcast their investigation into Towns County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the well-known tragedy this evening, May 26, at 6 p.m.
Additional articles on the subject, including the audio from the viral 911 call, are available by clicking this highlighted link.
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. – FetchYourNews (FYN) opened an investigation into the death of Terry Samuel Silvers, a father of six known to suffer from substance abuse, shortly after an accident claimed the Hiawassee resident’s life Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The fatal collision left two victims injured, an eyewitness traumatized, and the community questioning whether Towns County Sheriff’s Office should have done more to prevent the tragedy.
Towns County Deputy Corporal Gregory Joseph responded to two prior accidents involving Silvers, releasing the now-deceased on both occassions without charges, despite widespread knowledge of Silvers’ drug use, and testimonies from several witnesses who claimed Silvers was obviously under the influence of intoxicants at the time of both incidents.
New information recently updated by Georgia’s Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (POST) reveals that the deputy in question attended six hours of drug-impared detection training through the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia (PAC) a week prior to a late-November, 2018, roll-over accident involving Silvers. As in the case of a subsequent incident in which Deputy Joseph responded, occurring on the evening before Silvers’ death, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) was conducted, a test which does not properly indicate drug impairment.
A two-day Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection Enforcement (ARIDE) course for law enforcement is scheduled in Hiawassee next week. According to a document obtained by FYN on May 16 from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), there is no record of Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputies listed as upcoming participants. Of note, four Hiawassee police officers plan to attend the training, two of whom trained in the past.
During the course of our investigation, FYN conducted numerous interviews with former deputies of the Towns County Sheriff’s Office who unanimously cited lack of training and leadership as reasons for their resignations.
As seen in Corporal Joseph’s body camera footage from Nov. 27, witness Belinda Munger is heard telling the deputy that Silvers had a habit of driving under the influence of intoxicants, posing a danger to innocent citizens. Also in question is a telephone call answered by the responding deputy during the incident.
“I was woken up to the sound of shattering glass,” Munger told FYN, shortly after Silvers’ death. “I jumped out of bed, ran to my kitchen to see what was going on. I looked out my window and saw Terry’s truck hanging off my bank, almost going through my mother’s house. I called 911 while putting my shoes on to head out the door. Terry had gotten off in the ditch, taken out the neighbor’s mailbox, continuing down the ditch, hitting tree stumps which caused his truck to flip. He was so heavily medicated, he did not realize that he had even flipped his truck.
“He asked if someone could pull his truck out so he could go home. Officer Joseph arrives on scene. I explained what had happened and let them know that it was obvious; he was under the influence of pills. The officer asked Terry for his ID. Terry stumbles to get to his vehicle, where he searched for a long while for his ID and insurance. I asked the officer if he saw Terry stumbling as he walked to his vehicle, but the officer did not even acknowledge what I said. Another officer arrived on scene and I advised him of what was going on, also that they needed to test him. I was very open with letting them know how ridiculous it was that they did not think anything was wrong with Terry. It was very obvious, he couldn’t even hardly keep his eyes open and was slurring his speech.
“The ambulance arrived, and Terry refused to let him transport or check him,” Munger continued. “They as well could tell he was medicated and nothing would be done. The other officer advised Officer Joseph that I was upset, and that I wanted him tested. Officer Joseph came back to tell me he had checked out fine, but I knew different. Then, I asked both officers, ‘Will it take him killing someone for you all to do something with him?’ I told them how ridiculous it was that, once again, they were letting him go free knowing how he was under the influence of pills… Later that day, I reached out to Sheriff Clinton one last time, and left a message with his secretary. But like usual, there was no attempt of a return phone call from the sheriff.” Munger can be heard in the video, telling the deputy that Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton should be contacted before Silvers’ “kills someone.”
Approximately three months later, the evening prior to the fatal crash, Silvers was involved in an additional accident on Bugscuffle Road in which Deputy Joseph responded. Again, Silvers was released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office. The property damaged in the Feb. 22, belongs to neighboring Union County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Daren “Bear” Osborn. “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 in March. “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.
An “alco sensor” is commonly known as breathalizer. Family members and friends of Silvers stated that Terry was not a drinker, but recognized in the community and to law enforcement as an opioid user. North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office did not perform a post-mortem screen on Silvers for narcotics, however, opting to only conduct ethanol testing for alcohol.
John Bagley, a witness who spoke with FYN shortly after the tragedy agreed with Lt. Osborn, stating that Silvers was clearly unfit to drive on the night prior to his death. “(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.”
WXIA – 11 (11Alive News) will broadcast a televised investigation into Terry Silvers’ death, beginning Tuesday, May 21, at 11 pm. An in-depth segment will follow Sunday, May 26.
Below is the disturbing 911 audio previously released by FYN from the night of the fatal crash…
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.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Terry Silvers, 52, a resident of Hiawassee, suffered fatal injuries Saturday, Feb. 23, in Clay County, NC, after the pickup truck that he was driving collided with another vehicle on NC-69. FYN released information three days after the deadly crash, divulging that Silvers had been involved in an accident in Towns County the night prior to his death.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Friday evening incident on Bugscuffle Road, and Silvers was released without charges. The accident report stated that alcohol or substance screenings were not conducted. Towns County Sheriff’s Office reported that the accident was the result of shifting firewood in the bed of Silvers’ truck.
Multiple individuals contacted FYN to speak on behalf of Silvers, two of whom requested to go on-record, asserting that they believe Silvers would still be alive had local law enforcement reacted to prior incidents in a different manner.
“Towns County Sheriff’s Office needs to be investigated,” Mark Silvers, brother of the victim, began. “Not only did Terry wreck the night before. but there were more times before that. Towns County law was on scene, and my brother was let go. He should have been locked up. People were telling them that he was messed up, and if they’d done their job the night before the fatal night, my brother would be alive. Towns County law should be fully responsible for his death. If they’d done their job and locked him up Friday night, my brother would still be with us today. He’s been let go many times.”
Mark Silvers went on to say that his brother battled an opioid addiction. “Even though he wasn’t drunk, the law should have known he was on drugs. A lot people told them, ‘What was it going to take? Him to kill someone or kill himself before they do something?’ and by that time, it was too late.”
Silvers iterated that numerous individuals had conveyed to Towns County Sheriff’s Office on multiple occassions that Terry Silvers was under the influence of narcotics, and that Silvers should not return behind the wheel without facing legal consequences.
Belinda Munger, a former Towns County 911 dispatcher and neighbor of Silvers, additionally contacted FYN, stating that Silvers had a history of drug use and accidents. On different occassions, Munger stated that Towns County Sheriff’s Office responded to accidents which Silvers was involved, although the now-deceased was not taken into custody. Munger reported that in December, 2017, Silvers was involved in an accident in front of her home. Munger said that she described what ensued to responding deputies. “We also had told them he was under the influence of pills and it was very obvious…,” Munger explained. “I was very distraught, had he not hit the tree, he would have ran into my house, into my son’s bedroom. The officers advised my neighbor, when she showed up, that they did not have to notify her, even though it was her property where he wrecked. I tried to reach out to (Towns County) Sheriff (Chris) Clinton, but there was no attempt of a returned phone call from him. Nothing more came of this call.”
Upon suggestion from a confidential source, FYN filed an open record request to review 911 audio of the “be-on-the-lookout” (BOLO) issued to Towns County Sheriff’s Office immediately prior to Silvers death.
Heather Segars, a local resident, called 911 to report Silvers’ white Toyota driving recklessly on Highway 76, immediately prior to the fatal accident. Throughout the audio, Segars pleads for law enforcement to quickly respond. “He’s gonna kill somebody” is repeated on the graphic tape.
In the recording, a blaring siren can be heard as Segars pulls behind Silvers into the parking lot of Cornerstone BP, at the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 17, in Young Harris. “There’s the law right there that’s passing me,” Segar says, to which the dispatcher responds,”Yeah, they’re going to another call.” Segars then identified the driver as Terry Silvers. Segars continued to follow Silvers’ vehicle as it exited the Cornerstone BP parking lot, headed north on Highway 17 toward the Georgia-North Carolina state line, with Segars begging the dispatcher to remain on the line. “Please, they’ve got to hurry…I’ve got to make sure he gets pulled over,” Segar pleads in the dramatic audio, “Where are they at?!”
The emergency recording documents Segars pursuing Silvers into Clay County, NC. The 911 operator stated prior that Clay County Sheriff’s Office had been notified. “Are they close?” Segars asked, “He’s in other lanes, cars coming.”
Segars can be heard screaming and weeping as she witnessed the fatal accident occur near King’s Pharmacy, south of Hayesville. Silvers re-entered into the southbound lane of traffic, colliding head-on with another vehicle occupied by a grandmother and her granddaughter. The family sustained non-life threatening injuries. “Oh God, he’s dead…,” Segars is heard crying, “I tried to tell y’all to hurry!”
Segars told someone at the scene, “I’ve been on the phone with 911 since Hiawassee…Oh God, he’s dead. I’ve been on the phone since Papa’s Pizza.” A siren can be heard arriving at the scene of the accident as the tragic call ends.
According to emergency responders, Silvers died upon collision with the oncoming vehicle, the result of firewood ejecting into the cab of the Toyota pickup that he was driving. North Carolina Highway Patrol stated that Silvers did not appear to brake prior to impact, and that road conditions were not unfavorable at the time of the deadly crash. North Carolina Highway Patrol requested a toxicology screen on Silvers, and the investigation remains open. Results of the toxicology test are expected in coming weeks.
FYN contacted Towns County Sheriff’s Office, offering an opportunity to provide a response. A statement had not been received at the time of publication.
HIAWASSSEE, Ga. – Nearly twelve weeks after a North Carolina motor vehicle accident left one man dead, two victims injured, and an eyewitness traumatized, WXIA-TV 11 (11Alive News) in Atlanta, in cooperation with FetchYourNews (FYN), has completed an in-depth investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic event. A broadcast is expected to be televised on WXIA-TV 11 in coming days. The initial segment is scheduled for release Tuesday, May 21, at 11 pm. A detailed report will follow Sunday, May 26.
On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23, a head-on vehicle collision took the life of Terry Samuel Silvers, a Hiawassee native, leaving a grandmother and granddaughter wounded, and Heather Segars, a good samaritan who attempted to prevent the deadly crash by summoning Towns County authorities, devastated. Public outrage flared upon learning the facts surrounding the fatal collision, prompting the Atlanta-based news channel to conduct a dual investigation.
Renowned WXIA-TV 11 Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe contacted FYN shortly after the viral-release of the 911 audio recording in which the frantic caller, Heather Segars, pleads for law enforcement to respond to an erratic driver, later identified to dispatchers as Terry Silvers, while headed westbound on State Route 76 in Young Harris, GA. A Towns County Sheriff’s Office cruiser’s siren can be heard bypassing distraught Segars, who pursued Silvers’ vehicle across the state line until the time of the fatal impact, in response to a previous call which two officers had adequately covered.
The deputy in question, Corporal Gregory Joseph – also known as officer “112” – responded to two prior accidents involving Silvers, one of which occurred the night before the fatal crash. Despite testimony from numerous witnesses who stated Silvers clearly appeared to be impaired – including an adament account from an on-scene, veteran law enforcement officer from a neighboring county – Silvers was again released to return to the roadways without facing charges. According to Georgia’s Police Officer Standard Training (POST) records, Corporal Joseph has never participated in roadside drug-detection training, nor has the deputy received sufficent DUI training in over a decade.
Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton issued a statement to the county’s legal organ in the weeks following the highly controversial accident, denying departmental responsibilty, much to the dismay of many of the citiizens the lead lawman had sworn to serve.
FYN recently received a requested copy of Silvers’ toxicology report from the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office which revealed Silvers did not have alcohol in his system at the time of his death. A screening for additional substances was not conducted, however, despite widespread knowledge that Silvers battled an opioid addiction. Family, friends, and law enforcement officers attested that Silvers was a well-known substance abuser in the community. North Carolina authorities stated that in the event of a death when the manner is apparent – such as a vehicle fatality – toxicology screenings are typically limited to alcohol detection.
FYN spoke with 911 caller Heather Segars on the morning of May 15, inquiring into her current thoughts and condition.
“I’m holding on with a very thin rope every day,” Segars shared. “I still have anxiety today. I’ve had to be put on Valium. Some days are better than others.” Segars said she holds Towns County Sheriff’s Office responsible for the cost of her psychiatric treatment and the lost wages which ensued as a result of the accident, but foremost, Segars said what she wants most is for Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton to be held accountable. “I want to know why Sheriff Clinton won’t take responsibilty. I would like to see change in the department. We deserve someone with experience on issues like this. I would like to see Clinton resign. I’d also like a public apology from his wife for posting unrelated things about my past under his social media account after the accident.”
FYN continues to offer a platform for the sheriff to comment.
Continue to follow FYN as the release of the WXIA-TV 11 investigation approaches.
Feature Image: Terry Silvers