Rhome bank robbed

Woodhaven National Bank in Rhome was robbed around noon Wednesday. Rhome Police Chief Brandon Davis said a man entered the bank and handed the teller a note that said hand over the money and no one will get hurt. He kept his hands in his pocket and did not display a weapon during the robbery. He took an undisclosed amount of cash, and he and a second suspect driving a black, four-door newer model Chevrolet pickup with paper tags headed north on U.S. 81/287. As of mid-afternoon, the two suspects were still at large. The suspect who entered the bank is described as around 5-foot, 10-inches tall, early to mid-30s, heavy build, wearing a ball cap with a logo on it and a burnt orange University of Texas shirt. He was also wearing sunglasses on the cap and had about a day or two of facial hair growth. Security cameras were able to capture images of the man. A description of the get-away driver was not available. Anyone with information should call Wise County Crimestoppers at 800-643-TIPS (8477) or 940-627-TIPS (8477) 24 hours a day. You may remain anonymous, and a reward of up to $1,500 is available to information leading to an arrest.

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1 killed in 2-vehicle accident


A woman was killed and a child was seriously injured about 9:30 Wednesday morning in a two-vehicle accident on Farm Road 51 at Farm Road 455 near Slidell. The child was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. Their identities will not be released until family has been notified. Department of Public Safety Trooper Ray Wallace said a passenger car  stopped at the stop sign on 455 (on the east side of 51), but then pulled out in front of an 18-wheeler traveling northbound on 51. The truck driver, who works for Targa Resources, was not injured. “It was like a movie,” said witness Charles Shouse of Paris. “The car was in the air. There are no tracks in the grass.” The car came to rest on the west side of the road, just north of the intersection. The witness said the truck also went airborne before crashing into RVs parked nearby and landing on its side. According to Shouse, the driver of the truck said he was carrying saltwater. The road was temporarily shut down so the helicopter ambulance could land on 455. Wise County’s Medic 1, Medic 4 and Rescue 1 were called to the scene. Greenwood/Slidell and Decatur fire departments were also on scene, as well as sheriff’s deputies and several state troopers.

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Suspect flees, officers swarm Chico

Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies were combing the city of Chico Tuesday  after a suspect escaped about 4 p.m. Brian King, 32, of Alvord jumped from his vehicle and ran from officers when they attempted to stop him on Hickory Street. King has been arrested numerous times in Wise County and currently has a felony warrant out of Montague County for possession of a controlled substance. Sheriff David Walker said King is not believed to be dangerous. As of 5:30 p.m. he had not been apprehended. Walker said officers first spotted King in Sunset. They recognized him and knowing there was a warrant for his arrest, they began following him in an unmarked car. He drove to Chico at which time a marked unit was called to the scene to make the stop. When the marked car attempted to stop King, he jumped from his vehicle, leaving it in gear, and it rolled into the officer’s car. Walker said when King is apprehended, he will face additional charges, including evading arrest.

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Breaking News: Two bikes collide in Rhome

_JD67003Two motorcycles collided on the U.S. 287 service road between Pioneer Road and Texas 114 in Rhome Sunday morning.
One of the riders was flown by Air Evac 68 to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
The accident occurred around 7:45 a.m.
Rhome officers on the scene directed all media requests about the accident to Chief Brandon Davis, who was not immediately available for comment.
According to Wise County Sheriff’s Office initial dispatch, three riders were on the ground following the collision. The medical helicopter was requested immediately after first responders arrived on scene for one rider.
A rider on a third bike with the group, who asked to remain anonymous, said he did not see the accident occur.

“I was a couple hundred yards behind,” he said. “They came over the hit and I guess they realized they had to merge and clipped.”
The rider said the group was heading back to Utah .

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Boy struck by car

A 13-year-old boy was struck by a car in the 800 block of 17th Street in Bridgeport Sunday morning.
He was transported by ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur with apparent minor injuries, according to Bridgeport Police Sgt. Ricky Schwartz.
The accident occurred at 8:47 a.m.

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Slidell home catches fire

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

A home in Slidell, located just behind the school on County Road 2822, caught fire about 6 p.m. Monday.

Greenwood/Slidell Fire Chief Adam North said they were able to contain the fire to one bedroom and the attic of the 90-plus-year-old structure.

He said an electric company had been working on the power lines across the street when the linemen smelled smoke.

“When they got up in the cherry picker, they could see smoke coming from the back of the house and called 911,” he said.

When his crews arrived, there was heavy smoke coming from the back of the home, and it had gone into the attic.

The chief said they initiated an interior attack and were able to get a “quick knockdown.”

“It was a great job by my guys doing a quick interior attack,” he said. “It’s very rare to save a house like this in a rural area, especially a wooden structure.”

He said his department had a good response time, and he also gave credit to departments that provided mutual aid.

Decatur, Krum and Sanger fire departments were called to the scene, as well as Wise County medics.

North said although a pickup was parked in front of the home, the house was locked and no one was home. The structure was remodeled about a year ago.

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Judge rules in favor of Elections Commission

Judge R.H. Wallace Jr. Friday denied the injunction requested by Tracy Smith against interim Elections Administrator Jim Parker and the Wise County Elections Commission. Smith, the Wise County Democratic Party Chair, filed the lawsuit, claiming that the appointment of Parker violated the state election code. Several witnesses testified in the hearing that lasted almost two hours, and Judge Wallace, with the 96th District Court in Fort Worth, issued his ruling shortly after noon. Smith dropped her head when the ruling was announced. “I think the spirit of the law was not adhered to,” she said afterward. “I don’t feel like the intent of the law was followed either. It’s unfortunate.” Read the full story in the weekend Messenger on newsstands Saturday.

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Rock truck spills load on U.S. 81/287 in Decatur


Traffic was slow going Tuesday during the noon hour in the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 at the Farm Road 1810 intersection after a rock  hauler lost its load. Decatur Police officer Keith Hilton said Manuel Pena, 41, of Fort Worth was entering the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 from FM 1810 when he came around the curve too fast. The trailer tipped over, spilling gravel on the roadway. No one was injured. The Texas Department of Transportation responded to clean up the rocks. Decatur Police and Fire departments worked traffic control in the area. The roadway was expected to be cleared within the hour.


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Stabbing suspect arrested after chase

A 35-year-old stabbing suspect fled on foot Monday afternoon when Wise County Sheriff’s investigators attempted to arrest him in connection with a Saturday-night stabbing in Chico. Ricky Stilwell was caught after about a 45-minute chase west of Chico High School. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said Stilwell is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest in connection with the incident which took place, by some accounts, near the Chico Cemetery. The Sheriff said investigators went to JPS Hospital in Fort Worth Monday to interview the victim in the hospital, after taking statements from several other witnesses. Walker said the stabbing is likely related to incidents the previous week in Chico where officers responded to reports of people shooting at houses, going door-to-door and standing in the road. “I think it’s all related and we’re trying to pull it all together,” he said. Look for more information in the mid-week Messenger.

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Gas leak shuts down intersection

A roadway intersection in far west Wise County was temporarily shut down Monday afternoon due to a gas leak. Sand Flat Volunteer Fire Dept. called for an engine from the Chico Fire Dept. to block County Road 1745 at Farm Road 1810. Those needing to drive CR 1745 are being asked to find an alternate route. The road is safe right now, but if the wind changed there could still be gas blowing across it. The road was shut down  just after 4 p.m. after a call came in just before 4 p.m. that a leak had been detected in a high-pressure gas line in a plant operated by Targa Energy. Fire department personnel were told that the leak was detected at the plant and the line had been evacuated and was being repaired. Deputy Fire Marshall J.C. Travis advised that the intersection be shut down in the interest of public safety. It was believed that the road would be reopened before 5 p.m.

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Democratic Party sues elections commission, administrator

Wise County’s new elections administrator and members of the county’s elections commission are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in 271st District Court by the Wise County Democratic Party. Tracy Smith, Democratic Party Chair, filed the lawsuit in opposition to the Sept. 23 appointment of Jim Parker to replace Lannie Noble, who recently resigned his position as elections administrator. Parker was serving as a vice chair for the Wise County Republican Party at the time of the appointment — a position from which he resigned immediately after the meeting. Smith’s lawsuit claims the appointment violates the Texas Election Code. Other defendants in the suit are interim County Judge Glenn Hughes, Wise County Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson, Tax Assessor-Collector Monte Shaw and County Clerk Sherry Lemon, all members of the elections commission. Smith is also a member and last week cast the lone vote against Parker’s appointment.

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Paradise couple arrested in bank robbery investigation

A husband and wife from Paradise have been arrested in connection with a June bank robbery in Benton, Ark. Rodney Hurdsman, 45, and Stephanie Hurdsman, 39, were arrested Monday in Shreveport, La. A third suspect, Stephanie’s sister, Oneida Saylor, 35, remains at large. The three are suspected of robbing the Malvern National Bank in Benton on June 16. The three are also suspects in other robberies, according to the Benton Police Department. Detectives in Benton have been working with the FBI, Louisiana State Police, Round Rock Police Department and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. A full story will be featured in the midweek Wise County Messenger.


Rodney Hurdsman


Stephanie Hurdsman


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2 injured when train strikes 18-wheeler

Two people were seriously injured Monday afternoon when a Union Pacific train struck an 18-wheeler on a private driveway between Bridgeport and Paradise. The train was eastbound on the track, which runs parallel to Texas 114 when it collided with the cab of an 18-wheeler at the private driveway across the street from Don’s AC around 12:45. The impact ripped the cab off the chassis. The driver and passenger of the truck, who were not identified, were both flown to Metroplex hospitals, one from the scene and another from the Paradise High School football field. Because the wreck happened on private property, Texas Department of Public Safety officers on the scene said the railroad company would conduct the investigation. Wise County EMS, Paradise Volunteer Fire Department and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office also responded.


Messenger photo by Joe Duty


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2 injured in head-on wreck near Chico

Two drivers were injured in a head-on collision east of Chico Thursday afternoon.

Donald James Clark, 52, of Chico was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Investigators said he was in “critical but stable” condition.

Lewis F. Walsh, 60, of Alvord was transported by ground ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur for a possible leg injury.

Investigators said Clark was westbound on Farm Road 1810, near Farm Road 1655, when for unknown reasons he crossed into oncoming traffic. He struck head-on a westbound truck-tractor driven by Walsh.

Clark became trapped in his pickup and had to be extricated.

Chico Volunteer Fire Department, Wise County sheriff’s deputies and medics and Highway Patrol Troopers responded to the wreck, which was toned out just before 4 p.m.


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Sheriff’s Office sergeant arrested for improper photography

A Wise County Sheriff’s officer was arrested Friday morning for improper photography related to sex offenders who had been jailed. Sgt. Chad Hightower was charged with improper photography or visual recording. He posted $25,000 bond and was released. The investigation began from a complaint by a man who was registering as a sex offender. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Hightower told the man a new state law required him to take photos of offenders in the nude. The complainant was photographed naked twice, the second time in an office at the county’s impound yard. The investigation revealed nude photos of other men as well, according to the affidavit. Look for a full story in the weekend Wise County Messenger.


Chad Hightower


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1 injured in Thursday wreck

A New Mexico man was seriously injured in a one-vehicle wreck on U.S. 287 near New Fairview Thursday afternoon.

His name was not available at the scene. He was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Although the accident is still under investigation, it appears the man was southbound on 287  in a white Nissan Altima when, for unknown reasons, he drove across the shoulder and off of the roadway. He continued for more than 500 feet, cresting a hill before striking a tree.

East Wise Volunteer Fire Department and Wise County medics set up a landing zone for Lifeteam 68 on the east side of the roadway.

Wise County medics and Texas Highway Patrol also responded to the wreck, which was toned out at 3:35 p.m.  It occurred a mile-and-a-half north of Farm Road 407.


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1 ejected, flown in Wednesday wreck

The driver of a blue Ford Mustang involved in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 287 in New Fairview Wednesday night was ejected and flown to a Metroplex hospital.

Austin Williams, 46, of Decatur was transported by Lifeteam 68 to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.  Investigators said Williams sustained severe road rash, but he was conscious and alert at the scene.

The accident remains under investigation. Officials believe Williams was northbound in the outside lane of 287, when he approached a curve in the road, near County Road 4421.

Instead of taking the curve, authorities believe Williams continued straight, striking an 18-wheeler driving in the inside lane of the highway. The Mustang spun out and landed upside down on the side of the road.

The driver of the 18-wheeler, Thomas Rossetter, 41, of Rio Vista, was not injured.

East Wise Volunteer Fire Department as well as Wise County sheriff’s deputies and medics responded to the accident, which was toned out around 9:15 p.m.



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Bomb threat found at Paradise Junior High

All junior high students and staff have been evacuated from Paradise Junior High to the high school gym after a note was found in a junior high locker warning of a bomb. The note was found shortly before noon Tuesday. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is currently searching the building. Once the building is deemed safe, students and staff will be allowed back into the building. Parents who would like to contact the school can call 940-969-5001.

UPDATE: After a bomb threat was discovered earlier today at Paradise Junior High, Wise County Sheriff Deputies have complete their search and students and faculty re-entering the school. PJHS students and faculty were evacuated to the high school gym while law enforcement searched for potential threats.

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1 flown from Chico wreck

An Irving man was flown to a Metroplex hospital after being ejected from a pickup involved in a two-vehicle accident in Park Springs, north of Chico, Monday afternoon.

Arcadio Guzman, 40, sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries, according to investigators. He was flown by helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Officials believe Guzman was northbound on Texas 101 when he rounded the curve “a little too fast” and sideswiped a southbound one-ton truck.

Guzman lost control of the Toyota Tacoma he was driving and drove through a fence, landing in a field on the southbound side of the road.

He was ejected from the vehicle.

His passenger, Florentin Alvarez Chavez, 26, was transported by ground ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

The driver of the one-ton truck, Jesus Maese of Chico, was not injured.

No citations have been issued, but investigators said failure to control speed was one contributing factor.

Chico Volunteer Fire Department, Wise County medics and sheriff’s deputies and Texas Highway Patrol responded to the accident, which was toned out around 4 p.m.


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1 killed in 4-vehicle wreck near Rhome

One person was killed, another seriously injured in an accident involving two 18-wheelers, a passenger car and a SUV. The incident occurred on Texas 114, just east of the Wise/Denton County line around 6:45 Monday afternoon.

According to Sgt. Lonny Haschel of the Texas Highway Patrol, an eastbound Freightliner towing a trailer loaded with rock crossed into the westbound lane for unknown reasons. In doing so, the semi clipped a westbound International semi then struck a Hyundai Elantra that was traveling west on 114, killing the driver of the passenger car.

A Chevrolet Tahoe traveling behind the Hyundai took evasive action but was also struck by the Freightliner. The Freightliner overturned and dumped its load of rock on  114.

The driver of the Hyundai died at the scene.  The driver of the eastbound Freightliner was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth via helicopter ambulance. The driver of the westbound International and the driver of the Tahoe were treated at the scene and released.

The crash is currently under investigation. As of 9:41 p.m. the roadway is still closed and will remain closed for an undetermined time.

Names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Rhome fire and police departments as well as Wise County sheriff’s deputies and medics assisted Denton County officials with the wreck. IMG_9972

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