Fire destroys home near Greenwood


Fire tore through a home in the 300 block of County Road 2627 near Greenwood Tuesday evening.
Firefighters from Greenwood/Slidell, Decatur, Alvord and Krum firefighters battled the blaze that was reported shortly after 6 p.m.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Greenwood/Slidell Fire Department Assistant Chief Tim Fletcher said the approximate 3,100-square-foot home was completely involved when firefighters arrived.
“From the start we had to go defensive,” Fletcher said. “It was already fully involved. The garage is the only thing salvageable.”
No one was at home when the fire started, according to Fletcher. The homeowner reported that there were a couple of cats in the home.
High winds fueled the flames as firefighters worked to contain it to the main structure and the garage.
“One of our concerns was with the high, dry vegetation on the back side,” Fletcher said. “We have three brush rigs here with the wind picking up through the night.”

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Two killed in wreck on FM 730


Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two people were killed in a three-vehicle accident on Farm Road 730 at County Road 4374 between Decatur and Boyd Tuesday evening.
Seth Evans, 23, of Boyd and his passenger Makayla Stoff, 18, of Azle died at the scene.
The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. A white Cadillac driven by Glenda Hogan, 69, of Decatur was stopped in the southbound lane of FM 730 to turn left onto CR 4374. A gray Ford F150 traveling southbound driven by James Blackwood, 47, of Decatur clipped the back of the Cadillac and then went into the northbound lane, striking head on a northbound Ford Escort, driven by Evans.
“The gray F150 was traveling southbound from behind and didn’t see [the Cadillac] until the last second and starts to swerve over,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Zeb Siebeneck. “His front right hits the Cadillac’s back left pushing the Cadillac off the road. After clipping the rear of the other car, [the F150] continues on into the Ford Escort. It was an instant stop for both vehicles.”
Blackwood was taken to Medical City Denton by ground ambulance.
Hogan and her passenger, Curtis Carter, 45, were not injured.
FM 730 was closed for several hours at CR 4374. Traffic was diverted through a private driveway.

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1 killed in rollover wreck


One person was killed in a single-vehicle wreck Sunday night south of Bridgeport. Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Zeb Siebeneck said a vehicle was westbound on County Road 3420 at a high rate of speed around 9:15 p.m. when the driver went off the roadway on the south side of the road, overcorrected, left the road on the north side of the roadway, rolled and went airborne through a tree and into a fence. The driver was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. His name was not released pending notification of next of kin, but Siebeneck said he was a local resident.

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Driver hospitalized after rollover wreck


The driver of a 2006 Toyota Tundra has been transported to John Peter Smith hospital after a rollover wreck late Thursday night off Farm Market 2048 in Boyd. Messenger Photo by Austin Jackson

The driver of a 2006 Toyota Tundra has been transported to John Peter Smith hospital after a rollover wreck late Thursday night off Farm Market 2048 in Boyd.

The driver was unconscious but breathing after Boyd Fire and Cottondale Fire extricated the driver from the vehicle.

The vehicle came to a stop overturned in a steep ditch after swerving off Farm Market 2048 approximately two miles east of FM 51.

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Fire destroys Decatur mobile home


A fire consumed a mobile home stored near the 1100 block of US 81/287 in Decatur Wednesday night.

Decatur Deputy Fire Chief Nate Mara said the home was likely unoccupied after initial investigation.

At 10:04 p.m. Decatur police officers were on patrol when they noticed a light in the field where the mobile home was stored, notifying the Decatur Fire Department. A blaze broke out, but was contained within minutes by Decatur Fire.

“PD was doing their standard night patrols and happened to glance over and thought it looked out of character for it to be lit up and it was actually on fire,” Mara said.

Boyd Fire assisted in the containment effort.

Mara said wind and the Decatur Fire Department’s efforts helped prevent what could have been a more serious situation, with a fuel storage tank and other structures stored nearby the mobile home.

“The guys did a good job of knocking down the body of the fire and the wind helped us out a little bit blowing away from the storage tanks. Had the wind been blowing in a different direction it could have been a little different.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bridgeport students, coach injured in bus wreck


A bus carrying members of the Bridgeport Sissies basketball team was involved in a wreck in Parker County Saturday night. Bridgeport ISD Superintendent Brandon Peavey said the wreck happened on Farm Road 51 outside of Weatherford as the team was returning from a basketball tournament in Granbury. Five girls and one coach were taken to a local hospital, he said. “We did have some players and a coach taken for observation,” Peavey said. “At this point, it’s just precautionary.” A second bus carrying students was not involved in the wreck. “At this point we feel very blessed. It could have been much worse,” Peavey said. All parents had been notified of the wreck, he said. This post will be updated as more details are available.

Edit at 12:45 a.m.: Department of Public Safety spokesperson Ricky Hunter said the wreck happened at 9:41 p.m. on FM 51 near Wilson Lane. Preliminary investigation indicates a 2015 Chevrolet passenger car was southbound on FM 51 when it crossed the center stripe and traveled into the northbound lane before striking the Bridgeport ISD bus driven by June Allison Taylor, 29. Hunter said five female students – four age 14 and one age 15 – were transported by ground ambulance to a Fort Worth hospital with what was described as minor injuries. The adult male driver of the car was also taken by ground ambulance to a Fort Worth hospital, and his adult female passenger was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with critical injuries, Hunter said.

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Bridgeport Police investigate death


A man was killed when he apparently lit himself on fire and jumped from a bridge in Bridgeport Friday morning. Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said his office received a call around 6:40 a.m. from someone driving on Texas 114 at the bridge over the railroad in the south part of town. “We had a caller drive by and see a male subject pouring gasoline on himself,” Stanford said. “My guys arrived on the scene and did the best they could.” Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Jan Morrow pronounced the man dead at the scene and ordered the body be sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiner for an autopsy. Stanford said the man’s identity is not known at this time.

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White resigns post with Decatur ISD


Decatur ISD Assistant Superintendent Steve White resigned Wednesday.
White, who was over transportation, safety, security, attendance, facilities, technology, health services, transfers and handled parent concerns at the district level, was named to the post in July by a 5-2 vote.
White turned in a letter to Superintendent Judi Whitis citing personal reasons for his resignation, which was effective immediately.
Whitis said White’s duties will be shared by Shane Conklin, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and herself.
“The two of us will split duties and responsibilities,” Whitis said.
She said she met with the transportation department Thursday morning and will be meeting with other groups.
Whitis added that she will be evaluating the needs of the district before choosing to fill the spot.
Before coming to Decatur to oversee the district’s transportation department, he was the superintendent at Granger, Alpine, Aspermont and Thrall.

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3 hurt in Tuesday night wreck


Three people were injured in a head-on wreck Tuesday night in Decatur. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the accident happened shortly after 6 p.m. on Farm Road 730 under U.S. 81/287. He said a car driven southbound on FM 730 by Destiny Beasley, 17, of New Fairview was turning left to enter U.S. 81/287 southbound when she collided with a car northbound on FM 730 driven by Charles Roberts, 75, of Decatur. Beasley and Roberts were taken by ambulance to Wise Health System in Decatur. A passenger in Roberts’ car, his wife Elizabeth, 72, was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth in serious condition, Hoskins said.

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Garrett charged with embezzling from Wood family


A Bridgeport woman has been arrested on theft charges, accused of embezzling more than a half-million dollars from the family of James Wood.

Robin Garrett

Robin Anne Garrett, 46, is charged with theft greater than $300,000, a first degree felony; theft $150,000 to $300,000, a second degree felony; and theft $2,500 to $30,000 enhanced, a third degree felony.

The victims in the case are James Wood; his son, Raymond Wood; and daughter, Janetta Killen.

Garrett served as a certified public accountant employed to handle personal business accounts and not the car dealership accounts. She is also the campaign treasurer for her husband, incoming Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Willie Garrett, who was elected to the position two weeks ago.

Garrett turned herself in to Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins Wednesday afternoon and was booked into the Wise County Jail. Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Clay Poynor set Garrett’s bond at $10,000 for each of the three charges. She posted bond and was released Wednesday, according to jail records.

According to the probable cause affidavit on file in the case, the thefts were discovered after Garrett’s credit card company, American Express, contacted Raymond Wood on Oct. 9 in regards to possible fraudulent checks being used as payments on Garrett’s credit card account.

Hoskins met with Raymond Wood to review credit card payments, which had been made from checks drawn from the trust accounts for him and his sister. Raymond Wood confirmed Garrett did not have permission to take the money from the trust accounts.

He said when he confronted Garrett about the checks, Garrett admitted to taking the money.

“Raymond Wood advised that Robin Garrett admitt(ed) to taking the money from the trust account and stated, ‘There is no explaining to do and I took the money,’” the affidavit states. “Raymond Wood advised that Robin Garrett asked them if they would like to know the reason she did it and Raymond advised her yes they would. Robin Garrett stated, ‘Because I could.’”

Raymond Wood said Garrett told his father she first took $10,000 from his farm account, then took $30,000 and $125,000 from Raymond’s Trust Account and then another $175,000 and $75,000 to pay off a loan she used on a 2015 Porche she was financing through EECU, a credit union. When asked about another check for $101,125 from Janetta Killen’s trust account paid to American Express, Garrett said she did not remember it, according to the affidavit.

On the $125,000 check, the affidavit states, “Raymond Wood advised Officer Hoskins that he remembers signing the check for Robin Garrett and at the time it was blank and Garrett advised it was for paying his federal income tax on his trust account.”

Hoskins reviewed credit card records and records from EECU showing multiple payments ranging from $10,000 to $175,000 on Garrett’s account.

“Officer Hoskins had been contacted by Robin Garrett and she openly admitted to taking the money and was wanting to pay it back to the victim,” the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, the first theft of $10,000 from James Wood took place on Dec. 12, 2016.

Hoskins said Garrett had worked as a CPA for the Wood family for several years, and she convinced the family in 2016 to not perform an outside audit.

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Manhunt prompts school lockdown


Decatur’s Intermediate School and McCarroll Middle School were briefly placed on lockdown this afternoon at the request of the Decatur Police Department after a patient from a nearby psychiatric facility escaped. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said they were notified just after 1 p.m. about a patient who had left the facility, located in the Wise Health System West Campus (the old hospital). As a precaution, Hoskins said he asked school administrators to lock down both campuses while they searched for the man. “We were just being precautious,” Hoskins said. “We didn’t want the kids going outside and running around while we were looking for him.” After about 30 to 45 minutes, the man was located near the Wise County Fairgrounds and returned to the facility. The school district sent a message to parents saying, “At no time were students in any danger.”

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No injuries after Paradise ISD school bus crash


A Paradise ISD bus hit a Ford Focus SUV between 7:45 and 8 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Schoolhouse Road and Main Street in Paradise.

NO INJURIES IN BUS CRASH — A Paradise ISD bus hit a Ford Focus SUV between 7:45 and 8 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Schoolhouse Road and Main Street in Paradise. Messenger Photo by Kristen Tribe

Department of Public Safety Trooper Ralph Wallace said the bus disregarded the stop sign on Schoolhouse Road and hit the Focus, which was traveling south on Main Street. The driver of the Focus, Harold Oberg, 53, of Runaway Bay was not injured.

Two children were also in his car but were not hurt. The bus driver, Kathy Cavender, 59, of Paradise was taken to Wise Health System in Decatur as a precaution.

There were six students on the bus, and Superintendent Paul Uttley said although there were no obvious injuries, two of them were taken to WHS as a precaution.

“I asked to have the the driver transported to be checked out, and we called the parents of the students,” he said. “I’m proud of how the staff put the kids’ needs first and made sure they were OK. The No. 1 thing is the kids are safe.”

The students were being transported to the Wise County Special Education Co-op in Bridgeport.

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1 killed in wreck on 287


A woman was killed when her Chevy four-door sedan struck a parked tractor trailer Sunday afternoon on U.S. 81/287 south of Alvord, according to Department of Public safety corporal Fred Thornton.

The wreck occurred around 2 p.m. The crash reduced 287 southbound to one lane for over an hour.

Messenger photo by Reece Waddell.

No additional details were made available and the crash is still under investigation.

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Remains of fallen WWII hero returned after 74 years


Kay Crawford watches as the remains of her father, Sergeant James Park, are returned home at DFW International Airport, Thursday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

DALLAS — It took 74 years, several DNA tests and a lengthy flight to DFW International Airport, but the remains of Army Sergeant James Kenneth Park, who went missing during World War II have finally returned home.

Park’s only child, Bridgeport resident Kay Crawford,  stood with tears of joy as she witnessed the procession 74 years in the making Thursday morning.

“He’s come home, he’s here,” Crawford said. “It makes me so happy and it’s brought me closure after all these years. He came home a hero to me.”

Park was just 20 years old when he was reported missing in action during a battle in the Hürtgen Forest in Germany in Nov. 1944. His unidentified remains were recovered and buried in a civilian cemetery near the forest before being reburied in Belgium in 1946.

In 2016, Crawford submitted a sample of DNA. In 2017, the remains were disinterred and tested.

In June, she received a call from the Veterans Administration that they had a match.

“When they contacted me two years ago, that’s when it really hit me,” Crawford said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s bitter that he didn’t come back alive, but it’s sweet that he’s coming home.”

Crawford said Park’s parents died thinking that he suffered from amnesia and would one day return home.

On Saturday, after the funeral in Bridgeport, Park will be reunited with his parents at the family burial plot in Barry, Texas.

“They waited all those years,” she said. “There’s a place for him and now he’s going to be beside them.”

Army Sgt. First Class Philip Oliver assisted in returning the remains to Crawford and the family. He said bringing soldiers’ remains back is important, whether they are returned home after a tour or after several decades.

“It’s a reminder to everyone that the government is never going to give up on their soldiers,” Oliver said. “No matter what, no matter how long or if they fall in combat. We’re always going to bring our soldiers home.”

Sgt. Philip Oliver and Kay Crawford watch as the remains of James Park are returned to U.S. soil. Photo by Joe Duty

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1 dead after striking guardrail in Rhome


A Wichita Falls resident died after her car hydroplaned and struck a guardrail on U.S. 81/287 in Rhome, Wednesday afternoon.

First responders from the Rhome Police Department, the Rhome Fire Department and the Department of Public Safety responded to the scene of a fatality accident in Rhome, Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Austin Jackson

Cynthia Thompson, 54, was driving southbound on U.S. 81/287 with two other occupants in the vehicle when the vehicle lost control, said Rhome officer Brody Brown.

After hydroplaning and striking the guardrail, the car came  to rest in the median just north of Farm Road 3433.

Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other occupants, Brandon Bush, 36, and Jerry Johnson, 30, just suffered minors scrapes from the accident.

 

 

 

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Rhome officer goes missing in Kentucky lake


Rescue squads from two counties and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources continue to search an area of Lake Cumberland, where a Rhome officer went missing Tuesday morning.
Sgt. Robin Adair, 61, went for a swim off a houseboat around 10 a.m. at the large lake near Jamestown, Ky. His wife told officials that she saw him go under but never resurface. Adair was not wearing a life preserver.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources spokesman David Baker said there was a strong current in that area of the lake near the dam.
Search and rescue crews have made several attempts to locate Adair.
“They’ve located an area of interest. A diver spent 17 minutes down in that area 100 feet deep and was not able to locate him,” Baker said. “Officers are doing their best to find him knowing he’s a fellow police officer. There’s a lot of empathy.
“It’s a large lake in Southern Kentucky, at the dam it’s up to 200 feet deep, which makes the search difficult.”
Adair has been in law enforcement for 25 years, spending the past nine years at Rhome.
“He was one of the guys that never met a stranger,” said Rhome Police Chief Sam Love, who worked the past two years with Adair. “He liked everyone he met and was always upbeat and happy.
“It’ll leave a big gap in the community. It’ll be hard to find someone to fill his shoes.”
Adair lived in Millsap in Parker County. Love said Adair and his wife regularly visited Lake Cumberland.
“He always talked when he retired that’s where he wanted to move,” Love said.
Adair was also a pilot and frequent skydiver, with around 100 jumps.
“He loved airplanes. You could show him a picture of a plane and he’d tell you when it was made and everything about it,” Love said.
“He had many loves in life — his wife of more than 20 years and was also an animal lover.”
Love said it was tough telling local business owners, many who adored Adair.
“He was very easy-going and cared a lot about this community,” said Frances Sturges of Big Z Travel Center. “If he worked, he’d always be out there waiting for us when we closed up.”
Masoud “Mason” Farhadi of Giant Burger said he was shocked by the loss of a friend, who he just helped with city’s National Night Out event.
“He was an awesome man — very kind,” Farhadi said. “He was family man and was respected by everyone. He always had something to say and something funny to share with others. He was just a great guy. We are all going to miss him.”

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One killed in wreck near Decatur


One person was killed and another seriously injured in a head-on collision south of Decatur Wednesday afternoon. The wreck happened on Farm Road 51 near County Road 3294, just north of Farm Road 3259 just after 2 p.m. Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Adam Lawson said a passenger car was southbound when, for an unknown reason, it veered into the northbound lane where it struck a pickup. The truck rolled over, landing upside down. The driver of the car was killed, and the driver of the pickup was taken by ground ambulance to Medical City Denton. Lawson did not release the names of those involved since officers were in the process of notifying next of kin for the deceased. More information will be posted when it is available.

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Decatur HS to add 15 minutes to school day


To make up for the time lost this week due to last Friday’s flooding, Decatur High School will add 15 minutes to the school day, starting Monday when students return.
High school students will now be dismissed at 3:50 p.m. for the remainder of the school year.
“Looking at options, this was the least disruptive,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis. “This way, no planned holidays are affected.”
By adding the 15 minutes for the remaining 140 days, the district will make up 2,100 minutes. The school lost 2,275 mintues this week with the campus closed from Monday through Friday.
Whitis said the school had extra minutes built in the school calendar. Schools must provide 75,600 minutes of instruction.
Decatur ISD officials wanted to go ahead and extend the day to start recouping the minutes before any winter weather forces the district to cancel classes.
The extra time will be added at different parts of the day. Ten minutes will be added between lunches. The last three periods of the school day will also be extended by a few minutes.
Decatur High School teachers returned to campus Wednesday as restoration crews finish up their work. The crews are expected to be finished Thursday with their cleanup work, Whitis said.
A drain pipe atop the school broke free Friday, sending water cascading into the building. An area from the main entrance to near the gym was flooded. No classrooms were damaged. Some offices had water damage.
District personnel worked Friday evening to extract water from the building. Crews from Blackmon Mooring have worked the past several days to dry out the flooded areas and restore the damaged insulation and flooring.
Whitis said the district will be hiring a contractor to make sure the other drains atop the building are working correctly.

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Decatur HS to be closed through Friday


Decatur High School will be closed through Friday after last week’s torrential rains flooded portions of the building.
The district originally called off classes at the campus through Wednesday, but canceled the rest of the week after meeting with its restoration company Monday.
“It’s a safety precaution,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis. “We want to be sure everything is dried out and get it as normal as we can before we have students back in there. We didn’t want people up there with a bunch of ceiling tiles out.”
One of the drains on top of the school collapsed during Friday’s storm sending water cascading into the building and flooding an area from the main entrance to near the gym.
“None of the classrooms were affected,” Whitis said.
She said some of the offices were flooded along with the main corridor from the front door.
Crews were at the school over the weekend starting the restoration process, getting water out of the building and drying out floors and ceiling tiles.
As far as the days missed, Whitis said the school will be researching options. Schools must provide 75,600 minutes of instruction.
“We’ll be looking to do what will be the least amount of disruption to the other campuses,” Whitis said. “We’re under the minutes requirement, we’ll be calculing the minutes and looking to build time back in the schedule at the high school. We’ll look at that before taking away any holidays.”
All other campuses held classes as normal.
“We wanted to disrupt things as little as possible,” Whitis said.
With the building closed, the Decatur volleyball team practiced Monday and Wednesday at McCarroll Middle School. The team played at Argyle Tuesday.

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Flooding closes Decatur HS through Wednesday


Decatur High School will be closed Monday through Wednesday after Friday’s torrential rains flooded portions of the building.
One of the drains on top of the school collapsed sending water cascading into the building and flooding an area from the main entrance to near the gym, according to Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis.
“None of the classrooms were affected,” Whitis said.
She said some of the offices were flooded along with the main corridor from the front door.
Crews were at the school over the weekend starting the restoration process, getting water out of the building and drying out floors and ceiling tiles.
Monday through Wednesday, no one will be allowed in the main building, Whitis said.
As far as the days missed, Whitis said the school will be researching options.
All other campuses will attend school as normal.
“We wanted to disrupt things as little as possible,” Whitis said.
The Decatur volleyball team will practice at 1 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at McCarroll Middle School. The team plays at Argyle Tuesday.
Decatur Athletic Director Mike Fuller said he is working on scheduling workouts for the football team at its practice facility.

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