Arrest made in hit-and-run
Witnesses say cars didn't stop to help child
BY ANGELA GARY
Arcade man has been charged in the hit and run incident which
killed a young girl early Tuesday morning.
Michael Wayne Randall, 496 Davis Road, was charged with vehicular
homicide and leaving the scene of an accident in the death of
Tierra Wilson, 9. His occupation is not known, but he has reportedly
told people he is an ex-CIA agent. He was born in Pennsylvania.
Arcade Police Chief Dennis Bell said other charges are pending.
Randall is at the Jackson County Jail and does not have bond.
The accident occurred on Hwy. 129 South at Martin Lane at 7:05
a.m. Tuesday. It is not yet known why the young girl was in the
road, but Bell said the impact occurred in the highway.
Randall didn't stop after hitting the child with the left front
corner of his mini-van, but apparently went to the Arcade Police
Department and told officer Tony Holcomb that a child had been
hit. He did not give his name or say that he had been involved
in the accident in any way.
"Mr. Randall did not indicate that he was involved in the
accident," Chief Bell said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
"He did not return to the accident scene. He did not leave
any information except that there was an accident on Hwy. 129
and a child had been hit."
Officer Holcomb said Randall pulled up to the police station
blowing his horn and "hollering and screaming."
"He knocked on the door," Holcomb said. "He was
upset that a little child had been hit. He just said a child
had been hit and somebody needed to be up there."
The arrest came after an all-day investigation by the Arcade
and Jefferson police departments. Arcade Police Chief Bell said
officers received numerous tips during the day that led to the
suspect's vehicle, a 1995 Ford Windstar van, being found at his
residence. Randall was arrested around 6 p.m. Tuesday at his
home. Bell said Randall walked down the driveway as the patrol
car pulled into his home.
"He didn't say anything,"
Bell said. "He started to and then he clammed up. At that
point, I believe he didn't know what to say."
Troy Rowell, a member of the Jefferson Police Department's Serious
Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) investigation team, said
evidence found at the scene matched Randall's vehicle. This evidence
included pieces of amber lens cover and marker lights from the
"As the phone calls came in, we dispatched officers out,"
he said. "We literally went door to door. Citizens of Jackson
County and Arcade were very helpful in giving us as much information
as they could. We followed very lead that we got."
Rowell said he spoke with members of the Wilson's family after
the charges against Randall were made and they were pleased that
the suspect had been arrested.
AT ACCIDENT SCENE
Billy Clark of Hoschton was the first person to stop at the accident
scene early Tuesday morning. He said he could tell from the road
that it was a child that had been hit. He was also very upset
that so many people passed by without stopping to help.
"People are the sorriest I have ever seen in my life,"
he said. "They were going around that baby--going into other
lanes. I bet there were 15 or 20 cars that went over in the other
lane and didn't even stop. I'm about half blind...I know they
could have seen that child. That was the saddest thing I have
ever seen in my life."
Clark said one woman who was parked behind him asked him to direct
her around the wreck since she was late for work. He doesn't
remember what he said but one of his employees in his truck with
him said he just cursed at the woman.
"I don't even remember her asking me," he said.
Clark said he was nervous and doesn't recall every detail.
"I just started trying to dial 911 from my truck phone,"
he said. "They said I called Jackson County too. I don't
remember...Dennis Bullock came up and tried to give her mouth
to mouth...I just went blank up there. I've never seen nothing
like that in my life. I just can't get over...All them cars were
just going around that baby."
Jefferson Elementary School principal Pam Smith also stopped
shortly after the accident occurred. She said it was dark and
she couldn't tell what was in the road, but she saw other cars
"I saw a man in the road waving his arms," she said.
"...I know CPR, so I checked the child's pulse. There wasn't
one. I went to the mother then and tried to comfort her...The
police came then. He also checked for a pulse...He had a raincoat
in the car and he covered her with it."
LOVED CHURCH, SINGING
Relatives of Tierra's say she was an intelligent child who loved
church activities, including singing with the choir and participating
in programs. Laverne Mack, the aunt of Tierra's mother, Denise
Wilson, said the young girl was active at New Salem Baptist Church
in Jefferson and Bush River Baptist Church in Homer.
"She was well-spoken," Mrs. Mack said. "She loved
her churches. She was real talented. She loved singing and being
in the programs. When people asked her to be in the programs,
she loved to be in them."
She was a fourth grader at South Jackson Elementary School and
was apparently waiting for a school bus when the incident happened.
"She loved her school," Mrs. Mack said.
She also loved animals, including her pet poodle that was killed
earlier this week when a car hit it.
"It's been a sad day here in Arcade," said Mayor Gary
Black at the Wednesday news conference. "Chief Bell did
a good job on the investigation yesterday. He made some decisions
that I'm proud to say helped solve this case. It's a sad day
when someone hit and killed a little girl and don't stop."
Gause's book to
be available Veteran's Day
After months of anticipation, a book on the World War II adventure
of Jefferson's Major Damon "Rocky" Gause is set to
hit the bookstores. The book will first be available on Veteran's
Day, Thursday, Nov. 11.
Jefferson's Damon L. Gause Jr., son of the World War II pilot
and hero, will tour with the book compiled from his father's
memoirs. He has been working for three years to get the book
"It is very emotional," Gause said of the book's release.
"It's exciting and it's tiring. It hasn't all sunk in yet."
One of the first local stops will be from noon to 2 p.m. on Veteran's
Day at the Commerce Public Library. Copies of the book will be
available for $21.95. Gause will then travel to Barrow County
where he will be featured at the Veteran's Day program at the
civic center in the former Duck Head building in downtown Winder.
He will be in Winder from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 11 and copies
of the book will be available there too.
During the book tour, Gause Jr. will visit bookstores in Washington
D.C., Baltimore, Md., and Huntington, N.Y., Monday and Tuesday,
November 8 and 9. He will be at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore
at North Point Mall, Alpharetta, November 10.
"The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause:
The Firsthand Account of One of the Greatest Escapes of World
War II" is being published by Hyperion Press and tells the
story of Gause's escape from the Bataan Death March and journey
to Australia in a small boat.
Gause's son has made a life-long quest of researching facts about
his father's life. He has made an attempt to meet everyone who
served in the war with his father and even attends reunions of
the 27th Bombardment Group. He pulled the manuscript out of a
footlocker where it had been safely kept for over 50 years.
Gause wrote an introduction and an epilogue to his father's journal.
He dedicates the book to "all American defenders of freedom,
both the living and the deceased." The book also includes
a forward by Stephen E. Ambrose.
The book is available at amazon.com on the Internet. It will
be available after Nov. 11 at Barnes and Noble, Athens, and Chapter
11 in Gainesville and Snellville. It can also be purchased by
calling Gause at 367-1107.
Gause's story has already been optioned by film company Miramax
and is expected to be made into a movie. Gause said he hasn't
been given a time line for the project. More
on this story
New middle school
By Tim Thomas
Although the Jefferson City Board of Education has now approved
a preliminary design for a new middle school, two problems remain:
Where to put it and how to pay for it.
The design for a new school was discussed along with plans for
adding six new classrooms to Jefferson Elementary School at last
Thursday's BOE meeting. The design for the middle school is virtually
identical to the one used at Burney-Harris Middle School in Athens
and is tentatively slated to be completed by the start of the
2001 school year.
The six classrooms at JES would be added behind the existing
first wing of the school. Depending on financing, that project
could get underway within a few months to be completed by the
start of the 2000 school year.
At some point, JES would have to be divided and a new school
built to house part of that population, said school leaders.
Some school systems have a K-2 primary school and a separate
3-5 elementary school. Something along those lines is currently
under consideration for the future in Jefferson as well.
While the time frame for the projects is to be within the next
two years, the system must first find a location for the new
facilities. Leaders said they would not be built on existing
"All we have left are two little issues" said board
chairman Ronnie Hopkins. "Where will it be (built), and
how we will pay for it."
Also during the meeting, the board recognized several exchange
students visiting from Scotland. When asked if they had any questions,
one student replied, "How do I get a green card?" When
the response was met with laughter, the student said, "No,
Other items discussed at Thursday's meeting included personnel
recommendations for October. The board accepted the resignations
of JES cafeteria monitor Mandy Webb and associate superintendent's
secretary Patricia Shirley. Employment was approved for Sabrina
Pritchard (JES paraprofessional), William Puckett (1/2 time bus
driver), Michelle Deleard (JHS custodian), and Lori Parsha (special
Water set to flow if SPLOST passes
BY ANGELA GARY
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth part
in a series of stories leading up to the Nov. 2 election.).
Of all the uses for a proposed special purpose local option sales
tax, by far the single greatest use will be to expand water and
sewer services in the county. Some 70 percent of the SPLOST is
dedicated toward water and sewer projects in Jackson County and
five of its nine towns.
A vote on the SPLOST measure will be on the ballot Nov. 2, along
with a proposal to change the structure of the Jackson County
government and several city elections.
At the county level, the Jackson County Water and Sewer Authority
will get the bulk of the money, an estimated $17.3 million. Those
funds will add 142 miles of water lines to serve 9,300 additional
people, say county leaders. In addition, some 900 fire hydrants
will be added in the county.
The City of Commerce will get around $3.3 million for water and
sewer upgrades in that town while Jefferson will get some $2.2
million. Hoschton would receive $523,000, Nicholson $435,000,
Braselton $313,000 and Maysville $242,000.
In the county, the Jackson County Water and Sewer Authority would
prioritize the roads to receive water lines based on several
factors, including: Water quality problems, water quantity problems,
service to unserved fire departments and service to the greatest
number of potential customers.
The county water authority would also use benefits from the five-year
SPLOST to help retire the county's portion of the Upper Oconee
Basin Water Authority debt service through water revenue and
enhance the industrial and commercial development for the property
Municipalities with water systems get their share of the funds
based on population.
A SPLOST that expired in June had been in place for five years
and was also heavily dedicated to water and sewer projects in