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News Index
Tuesday
May262009

Flooding Displaces 8 Families, Closes Schools

The rain has stopped and water levels are beginning to go down in Wilkes County. According to local dispatchers, evacuations happened in the Robins Landing development just outside of Moravian Falls. There was a rumor going around that other evacuations had been ordered because of issues at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, but those rumors were false, according to park officials, because the lake is not at any risk, and in fact the water level in the Yadkin River is lower than it was last week.

Schools dismissed today because buses couldn't get to some parts of the county, and the lower part of Wilkes County Community College campus was flooded this morning. The water has since receded, leaving behind a lot of mud and muck. Dispatchers say at least 8 homes have sustained flood damage. One woman was also rescued from her vehicle after it was surrounded by water in the Boomer community.

Tuesday
May262009

Update: I-77 Crash Death Toll Up to 5

The number of people who died in that devastating crash on I-77 in Surry county Friday is now fivbe. The parents and two children of a family from Queens, N.Y. died in the same vehicle. Bryan Mowry of Hickory died over the weekend, according to published reports yesterday. His wife, Sandra Mowry is still listed in critical condition at Baptist. Mrs. Mowry was driving a northbound Toyota Tacoma pickup that was struck by the minivan. A total of ten people were involved in the wreck, including three other children in the minivan. According to the N.C. Highway Patrol, the Hicks family was on its way from Queens, N.Y., to a family reunion in Alabama when the minivan crossed the 60-foot median and hit the pickup and car on I-77 about 9 a.m. Saturday. Hicks was driving and may have fallen asleep just before the wreck, the Patrol reported. I-77 was closed for several hours for helicopters to remove victims and for the investigation.

Tuesday
May262009

Bus Hit by Pickup Monday

A driver was injured when he collided with a school bus yesterday morning on Wiles Ridge Road about 10 and a half miles north of North Wilkesboro. The highway patrol reports 18-year old Gage Lucas Hayes of Hays was taken to Wilkes Regional Medical Center by Wilkes EMS for treatment. Hayes was southbound when his pickup went off on the right, spun left of center and collided with a northbound school bus driven by Phillip Cleary. Neither Cleary nor the 20 students on board requested to be taken to a hospital. Any charges are pending further investigation of the collision, which happened around 7:20 a.m. Damage to the school bus was estimated at $20,000. The Journal-Patriot reports the pickup truck was a total loss.

Tuesday
May262009

Flash Flooding This Morning

..A FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 AM EDT FOR WILKES COUNTY...INCLUDING BOOMER...WINDY GAP...WILKESBORO...RONDA...ROARING RIVER...NORTH WILKESBORO...MORAVIAN FALLS...MC GRADY...HAYS...HALLS
MILLS...DOCKERY...CRICKET...CLINGMAN...BUCK...BENHAM...WILKES COUNTY AIRPORT...MULBERRY...MILLERS CREEK AND FAIRPLAINS.

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS REPORTED FLOODING ALONG BIG WARRIOR CREEK WITH HIGHWAY 18 FLOODED. ADDITIONAL FLOODING WAS ALSO OCCURRING IN THE SOUTHERN SECTIONS OF WILKESBORO DUE TO
PERSISTENT HEAVY RAIN.

EXCESSIVE RUNOFF FROM HEAVY RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLOODING OF SMALL CREEKS AND STREAMS...HIGHWAYS AND UNDERPASSES. ADDITIONALLY...COUNTRY ROADS AND FARMLANDS ALONG THE BANKS OF CREEKS...STREAMS AND OTHER LOW LYING AREAS ARE SUBJECT TO FLOODING. DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. THE WATER DEPTH MAY BE TOO GREAT TO ALLOW YOUR CAR TO CROSS SAFELY.

Friday
May222009

Hammer Pleads Guilty to Deaths of Hudler, Others

An Ashe County man facing capital-murder charges in connection with a triple killing at a Grayson County Christmas-tree farm made a surprise guilty plea today in a Virginia courtroom, ending the process of a capital murder trial and resulting in five life sentences without the possibility of parole. The move came quickly after authorities, acting on a tip, found items taken from the home of Ron Hudler during the robbery of the farm by Frederick Philip Hammer. A news release from the Grayson County Commonwealth's Attorney's office early this afternoon says a jailhouse snitch learned where Hammer had buried the weapon and money, which was in a barn owned by a friend. Deputies executing a search warrant at that location found a .22 magnum rifle bearing the serial number matching that of a rifle sold to Hammer in the mid-1990's was located hidden under heavy rolls of woven wire fencing. Attached to the rifle was a broken scope with damage matching debris found at the door of Ronald Hudler’s house on the date of the killings.

This morning, in a plea deal approved by the families of the victims, Hammer pleaded guilty to five counts of capital murder, one count of robbery, one count of breaking and entering a building attached to real estate with the intent to commit larceny while armed with a deadly weapon, one count of grand larceny and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He received five consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, two additional non-capital sentences of life in prison, additional prison terms totaling twenty-three years and fines totaling $600,000.00.

Friday
May222009

I-77 Crash near Dobson Kills Three

Authorities closed part of Interstate 77 in Surry County Friday morning after a multi-vehicle crash involving 3 deaths and serious injuries. At least three vehicles were involved in the crash between Dobson and Elkin on the highway south of the Virginia border. Six people were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries. The Highway Patrol told the Elkin Tribune the wreck happened in northbound lanes about 9 a.m. Friday just south of the Zephyr Road exit. Patrol Capt. Everett Clendenin said a minivan registered in New York was traveling south when it crossed the median and struck two northbound vehicles. The three people killed were in the minivan. Southbound lanes were closed so emergency crews could have access to the victims but those lanes were reopened just after 10 a.m. The northbound lanes were closed for several hours.

Friday
May222009

Manhunt in Eastern Wilkes Last Night

Wilkes authorities had a manhunt in the eastern part of the county last night, but haven't yet released much information about it. I spoke with Sheriff's Captain Steve Cabe, who confirms there was a manhunt in the area of Rock Creek Road and Highway 268, but was unable to confirm reports that it had stemmed from a second armed robbery. He also did not know the number of suspects or whether they had been captured. Sheriff Dane Mastin was unavailable this morning.

Friday
May222009

Turtle Regatta Tomorrow

The Yadkin River Greenway Council is sponsoring Greenway Day tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lowe's Park at Rivers Edge. The event will feature dedication of two new greenway sections. One section extends 1.7 miles along the south side of the Yadkin River from the Wilkes Family YMCA to the north end of Collegiate Avenue near the old Golden Needles glove plant. The other section is the upgraded one-mile trail up the Reddies River to Suncrest Orchard Road in North Wilkesboro.

The council's seventh annual Turtle Regatta is at 2 tomorrow afternoon. It begins with about 2,000 toy turtles being dumped into the Reddies River from the D Street bridge in North Wilkesboro. Turtles are still available for "adoption" for $5 each. With each turtle will be a paper with the name, address and phone number of the person who "adopted" the turtle, as well as a number for the turtle. Spectators can follow the turtles from the greenway as they float down the Reddies to the finish line, just upstream from where the Reddies enters the Yadkin River. Spectators also can view the race from the greenway pedestrian bridge over the Reddies.

Turtles can be adopted at Cook's, Wilkes Antique Mall, Brushy Mountain Smokehouse, Hallmark-Quickframe, Wilkes Chamber of Commerce and Ruby's or by calling the greenway office at 651-8967. Tomorrow morning, turtles can be adopted at the Yadkin River Greenway booth at the Greenway Day at Lowe's Rivers Edge Park and at the Reddies Trailhead near CVS until 1 p.m.

Friday
May222009

Trooper Barber's Service Details Announced

Family members will hold a private service in his native New York to honor the life of Highway Patrol Master Trooper Kyle Barber, who died this week after an amputation surgery that was the result of an on-duty accident more than two years ago. Reins-Sturdivant announced the arrangements yesterday on its website, saying Barber's service date has yet to be determined. Barber had been stationed in Wilkes county since 1994. He was critically injured when an ATV rolled backward onto him during an accident investigation, pinning him to his patrol car.

Thursday
May212009

Robbery Suspects Prompt Chase, Manhunt

You'd think an event this morning was all that went on in Wilkes county today. Well, for law enforcement officers, you'd be thinking about right. An armed robbery attempt led to a car chase and a more than 6-hour manhunt in far western Wilkes county. The leaders of the various departments tell the story as well as anyone can. First, Wilkesboro Police Chief Robert Bowlin, concerning the robbery itself and the chase, to the point the suspects bailed out of their car:

Sheriff Dane Mastin explained the strategy used to capture the remaining four robbers:

All that, for something that netted the robbers -- well, pretty much nothing, according to Mastin They grabbed a bag they thought was full of money, but by the time it was all said and done, all they earned was some time in the local pokey, and after the requisite legal proceedings, a good likelihood of an extended visit to the big house.