Archived Story

YEAR IN REVIEW: Thorsby mayor passes, hospital closes

Published 10:16am Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Clanton woman sentenced for causing death

A 48-year-old Clanton woman on Nov. 19 was sentenced to 14 years in prison for manslaughter involving a vehicular homicide on April 3, 2010.

Lona Mitchell was sentenced by Judge Sibley Reynolds for the death of Richard Gilliam, 71, of Clanton.

Mitchell and Gilliam were both driving on Kincheon Road at 3:30 p.m. April 3, when Mitchell crossed over into Gilliam’s lane of traffic resulting in the crash.

Gilliam, who was heading back home after leaving West End Baptist Church in preparation for Easter Sunday, was pronounced dead on the scene and Mitchell, who was heading to downtown Clanton, was transported to UAB.

Toxicology reports showed Mitchell was under the influence of prescription and non-prescription drugs at the time of the incident according to Assistant District Attorney Brandon Bates of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Alabama.

“Both substances with their combined effect resulted in Mitchell not being able to control her car,” Bates said.

Bates said Mitchell was indicted in July 2010 by a grand jury on the charge of manslaughter and pleaded guilty to the charge in May 2011.

Bates said Mitchell was sentenced to 173 months in prison by Reynolds, the maximum number of months under the guidelines of the class B felony of manslaughter.

“We felt like justice was done,” Bates said. “This was a tragic circumstance. There were family members of Gilliam’s in the courtroom who are pillars of this community. He was quite an intriguing man and the whole thing was just tragic.”

Seven people seriously injured in wreck on 155

A two-vehicle wreck Nov. 23 on Highway 155 left seven people in critical condition.

No deaths were reported on the scene, but the victims’ current conditions were not known.

North Chilton Fire Department Chief Jason Scott said the wreck, which occurred at a curve in the road that has been the scene of many other serious crashes, was the worst he’s seen in his more than 20 years with the department.

“In my career there have been 20-plus wrecks there, and most of them have been very severe,” Scott said.

The vehicles crashed about 6:40 p.m. at the 3-mile marker, and the NCFD was on the scene for about hours, Scott said. Four emergency helicopters and six ambulances were brought in to transport victims to UAB Hospital and Children’s Hospital.


Late mayor’s wife named to town council

Nicole Hilyer, wife of former Thorsby mayor Dearl Hilyer, was unanimously chosen Dec. 3 to fill the town’s open council seat.

The seat came open when then-councilmember Jean Nelson was chosen to serve as Thorsby’s mayor after Dearl Hilyer died on Oct. 16.

Dearl Hilyer had just been re-elected to his second term as mayor

Residents were allowed to submit applications for the position to be considered by the council. In addition to Nicole Hilyer, other applicants included Jerry Mack Bingham Jr., Willis Britt, Sandy Collins, Tim Henderson, Tara Jewell and Kathy Johnson. Britt and Jewell served on the council during its last session. Britt was defeated by current councilmember Randall Higgins, and Jewell vacated her seat to run against Dearl Hilyer.

After the council considered the applications, Higgins nominated Nicole Hilyer to fill the open seat. The nomination was seconded by Marvin Crumpton, and all councilmembers present voted in favor. Roger Marcus was absent from the Dec. 3 meeting at the Thorsby Annex.

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