July-September 2011: Eslinger injured; texting blamed in mother, daughter deaths; immigration fight; cattle rustling

Published 1:25 pm Friday, December 30, 2011

Editor’s note: Between now and Tuesday, The Clanton Advertiser will revisit some of the top stories of 2011. Below are memorable stories from July through September.


Authorities’ search for missing teens ends
The search for two missing Alabama teens ended when police located them in Monroeville, Tenn. Jason Price, 18, of Clanton and his girlfriend Candice Ashley, 15 of Autauga County went missing July 1. Price was charged with interference of custody. Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said his department was actively searching for the two before they were found.

Jemison church turned into wedding chapel
Jemison resident Cindy Vining converted the old Methodist church built in 1831 into the Jemison Wedding Chapel.

Musician critically injured in  accident
Clanton native and country musician Austin Childress was critically injured in a motorcycle accident July 17 in Nashville. According to reports, an oncoming car hit Childress when the car’s driver fell asleep at the wheel and swerved into oncoming traffic.

Clark wins DYW program
Brooke Clark won the 2012 Distinguished Young Women Program and a $1,000 scholarship at Chilton County High School July 16.

Annual Lion of the Year award goes to Don Hand
Don Hand was named the Clanton Lions Club Member of the Year during the club’s annual Ladies Night banquet July 18. Hand organized the East-West All-Star Baseball game for the past two years and chaired the Lions’ program committee, which was responsible for getting speakers for the club’s weekly meetings.

Building inspector dies
Rick Russell, Clanton’s Building Inspector, died unexpectedly July 27. Russell, 48, who had been with the city approximately four years, was found by an office worker at city hall around closing time.


A young woman in the crowd prays along with worship leader Travis Crim at this year’s En Fuego concert, which was held in late August in a pasture near Verbena. 2011 marked the concert’s 15th year.

Officer charged with burglary, theft
A Clanton Police officer was arrested Aug. 5 and faced charges of burglary and theft of property after he allegedly stole a neon sign from a local business on Aug. 4. CPD Chief Brian Stilwell subsequently terminated the employment of David Michael Hegwood, a 22-year department veteran.

CMC operators  indicted in Texas
Herschel A. Breig and James R. Cheek, operators of Chilton Medical Center, were indicted on tax and embezzlement charges related to their work at a Texas hospital.

Verbena man shot self in leg accidentally
A Verbena man was taken by helicopter to UAB Hospital on Aug. 22 after an accidental gunshot wound. The 80-year-old man was home alone shortly after 3 p.m. when a gun he had been cleaning fell onto the floor and discharged, according to Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis.

Mother, child killed in accident
Randreaita Coleman, 18, of Birmingham and her 10-month-old son, Carter, died in an accident Aug. 25 when her vehicle left the southbound lane, crossed the median and struck a dump truck. The driver of the truck, Robert Paulk, 45, of Ramer was transported to Baptist Medical Center South by ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries.


Jemison High  broken into
Jemison Police arrested a Pelham man in connection with a recent burglary at Jemison High School. Alton William Bean, 54, was arrested on Sept. 6 and charged with burglary and felony theft of property.

Body found off highway
A 48-year-old Jemison man was found dead Sept. 11 just off the side of Highway 155. Stephen Elrod was last seen Sept. 4 and was reported missing to Jemison Police on Sept. 6 by relatives who had dropped him off at a residence in the area and then became concerned when he didn’t return. After several days of searching, Elrod was found less than 5 miles from his residence.

Hospital has new executive director
Ted Chapin joined Chilton Medical Center as the hospital’s executive director. Chapin came to Clanton from North Carolina and has more than 30 years of hospital administration experience.

Three charged with forging prescriptions
Three Clanton residents were arrested Tuesday on charges that they forged prescriptions at least 42 times to obtain the drug Adderall for five children. Claudia Boggs Easterling was employed by a doctor’s office in Alabaster that received a complaint from Clanton CVS about a suspected forged prescription. Clanton Police department helped obtain warrants for Easterling, Alton Keith Davis and Amanda Boggs—all of 506 Brookwood Drive in Clanton.

Soldier critically injured in war
Donny Eslinger, 19, of Jemison was severely injured by rocket-propelled grenades dropped on his base in Afghanistan on Sept. 24. Eslinger was taken to an Afghan hospital and later transported to Germany for further treatment of injuries including punctured lungs, broken ribs, a broken leg, kidney damage and severe head trauma.

Most of immigration law allowed
Much of Alabama’s new immigration law was set to go into effect after a ruling on Sept. 28 by U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn. Key parts of the bill, such as those requiring schools to check the citizenship status of students and law enforcement officers to do likewise for people pulled over, were kept. In her 115-page order, Blackburn blocked four parts of the bill from becoming law.

Charges filed in cattle theft
Two men were arrested in connection with the alleged theft of cattle from a Chilton County pasture. Alexander South, 18, of Clanton, was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing, attempt to commit theft of property and second-degree theft of property. John Vines, 28, of Pleasant Grove, was arrested on the victim’s property and charged with criminal trespassing.