Remembering the difficult stories of 2001
By Sparta Live | December 31, 2001 12:00 am
Kim Swindell Wood
The year 2001 will long be remembered as the most defining 365 days in the history of America. While the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, brought the realization of terrorism and devastation to the American people, every city in the United States experienced their own personal heartbreaks.
Headlines in newspapers draw the attention of many readers. It is tradition with many publications to print a year-end review of the stories that had the greatest impact on the community. Many news reports were tragic, and these are the most difficult to review.
-White County’s first traffic fatality for 2001 occurred when the new year was approximately four hours old. According Trooper Mark Dial, it appeared Charles M. Savage Jr., 39, of Doyle, was northbound on Gooseneck Road when he apparently went through the stop sign, and virtually went airborne. Savage eventually struck a retaining wall in front of a nearby church.
-Benny Martin, “The World’s Greatest Fiddler”, died in March 2001. Martin, who was born and raised in White County, passed away from complications of congestive heart failure. He was an extremely talented man, and could play many instruments, but the fiddle was his first love. Martin had played with Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and Roy Acuff.
-A fire in March destroyed a home on Newt Road and took the life of one man. Arthur Bright, who reportedly had been staying with the owners, died in the late evening fire.
-The second traffic fatality of the year occurred on March 29, when 24-year-old Misty St. John lost her life in a Thursday morning wreck. St. John was a passenger in a vehicle where the driver apparently lost control, and veered into the median strip approximately one mile past Gooseneck Road intersection. The 1994 Toyota Camry overturned, and St. John was ejected from the car as it overturned. According to Tennessee State Trooper Jimmy Jones, St. John was apparently not wearing her seat belt.
April 3, 2001, John David Eller, of Doran Road, died when he was apparently crushed by a huge limb which fell across the tractor he was driving. Eller had reportedly gone to the location to cut wood, and when his wife returned from an errand, she went to the area to search for him.
– The body of a missing man was found in a cave on Carrick Road. Jeffrey Wayne Young had been missing approximately three weeks, when his remains were found on a Sunday afternoon. Young had told his mother he was going camping for a few days. Friends of Young were searching for him on July 15, when they heard a sound from inside the cave. The sound was found to be Young’s dog. The discovery of his faithful companion eventually led authorities to explore the cave, where the remains of Jeffrey Wayne Young were found.
– Gillis Herren, 47, a former White County High School basketball star as a member of the 1972 team “The Blitz Kids”,
died in August as the result of a gunshot wound. Linda Herren, the victim’s wife, was charged with second degree murder in September.
-Tragedy claimed the life a Sparta mail carrier, when the car she was driving was struck by a driver who apparently ran a stop sign. Margaret Cope, 54, who was traveling west on Tollisontown Road, was on her mail route when the accident occurred.
-A one vehicle accident claimed the life of a Doyle man during a severe rain storm in October. Doil E. Vick, 51, was traveling north on Highway 111 when he apparently lost control of his 1986 gold Mitsubishi pickup. Vick reportedly overcorrected, and the vehicle went into a slide. It crossed over into the southbound lane, and down an embankment.
-On Nov. 16, 2001, a freak accident claimed the life an 81-year-old White County man. Charlie T. Caldwell had been driving a late model Buick Century, headed westbound on Highway 70 during heavy fog conditions, when his vehicle was struck in the rear end by another vehicle. As both drivers were outside their vehicles investigating the damage, a second crash occurred. A 1997 Ford pickup came upon the first crash, and the driver swerved to avoid the two disabled vehicles. The pickup struck one of the vehicles from the first crash, and caused the vehicle to hit both men who were standing outside the vehicles. Caldwell was killed instantly.
-An early morning house fire on Dec. 3 claimed the life of an 80-year-old man.
Ernest Gordon (Nappy) McDonald, a well-known Doyle resident, lost his life in the fire, as his home was consumed by flames.
– An educator and friend to many in White County, died Dec. 3 after a courageous and lengthy battle with diabetes. Dr. William Warren Jenkins, 71, Professor of English, Emeritus from Tennessee Technological University, left behind memories of his former basketball coaching days and many years spent in local classrooms. Jenkins had served as chairman of the White County Board of Education.
-A body found near the Cumberland County line in mid-December was identified as Howard Black, a White County resident. According to Sheriff Guy Goff, Black had been involved in a traffic accident several days before his body was found. He had apparently left the scene, and a search was conducted that night for Black, but he could not be found.
White County has certainly experienced its share of tragedies during 2001, and many lives have been affected by the loss of a friend or family member. As the clock strikes midnight marking the beginning of a brand new year, law enforcement agencies and all emergency services personnel hope for a safer 2002.