Lineville Mapco Incident leads to two arrests

Below is a statement released from the Lineville Police Department about the Aug. 5th incident at Mapco.cell 1

On August 5, 2015 at approximately 12:03 pm, Lineville Police Department  received a call from an employee at Mapco about a suspicious person outside their store. Lineville Police Department immediately dispatched two officers to that location.

From the time the initial call call and officer arrival, they got details of what had just occurred and the description of the suspicious person, who is now the subject.

Officers began searching the area for the suspect and asked for assistance from City Maintenance and Water Board employees and set up a perimeter from Hwy 9, Hwy 49, Wesobulga St and South St.

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Clay County Sheriff’s Department sent a couple of deputies and members of the public even began assisting. After a lengthy search and foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody around Mitchell St. and Jackson Springs Road area.

Those arrested were Darius Lavon Hale, a 19 yr old male from Childersburg, Alabama. Mr. Hale was charged with Theft of Property 2nd and Attempting to Elude. Mr. Hale was taken to the Clay County Jail and bond was set at $7500.

After an investigation, Haley Carin Caldwell was also charged with Theft of Property 2nd and taken to Clay County Jail and her bond was set at $5,000.

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After the investigation, we believe the victim, who was a juvenile and his information will not be released, had agreed to sell his phone to the suspects. This agreement was reached through social media. All along, the plan was to steal the victim’s phone and turn around to sell it.

To make things worse, we believe Mr. Hale was armed with a hand gun. This is a perfect example of how dangerous it is to use social media when dealing with people you don’t know. You can never be sure what their intentions may be.

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We do want to thank the Clay County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance. We also want to extend special Thanks to City employees, outside the Police Department, as well as member of the public who helped us with the search that led to the arrest. Thankfully, we were able to get the suspect into custody and no one was hurt.


Remembering Donna Kennedy…

By: Tammy Andrews

It’s funny how particular events will stand out in your mind and remain plastered there throughout your lifetime. It is with a sad heart that I bring you this story. It one of a beautiful person who fought many battles throughout her short life. She will forever be known as one of life’s greatest warriors to me…

In 2009, I covered an accident when I was working for the Clay Times-Journal that I will never forget. The one-vehicle accident occurred on Thursday, May 21 around 9:00 PM. After receiving the call that I needed to go get a picture, I set out with my camera in hand to Crooked Creek Bridge area on Hwy 49S, where the accident scene was filled with rescue and volunteer workers, who were actively working to free the trapped occupant.

Working wrecks like that was always the worst part of the job for me, because I always felt it was a violation of privacy for the victims and their families, not to mention, because it was such a small town, I usually knew the victim(s). This time was no exception. To this day, I still hate working accident scenes.

I soon learned that the entrapped victim of the vehicle was Donna Kennedy, the sister of a friend of mine and a lady I knew and interacted with a great deal because she worked as a cashier at Fred’s.

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While emergency personnel worked feverishly to free Donna,  I sat and waited for my photo op, because I wasn’t going to take a picture  while she was still entrapped in the mangled vehicle, just in case her injuries were life threatening.

Donna’s vehicle had come to rest basically “between a rock and a hard place”, I was told, because it had rolled on its side and was up against a tree in such a manner that tested the resourcefulness of the emergency personnel. This was a situation that if wasn’t handled appropriately, could result in even more injuries for Donna if failed. It was a task that would take hours to free her from the wreckage and all hands were needed.

Donna remained conscious within the confines of the wreckage while the vehicle had to be cut away from her piece by piece.  CCRS President Ricky Farr referred to Donna as a “real trooper” because she was awake and talked to them the entire time. “I can’t imagine how she felt, being trapped that way,  I’m sure she was scared to death but she kept talking”, said Farr.

A Lifesaver had been paged out and was waiting to fly her out. Omniflight personnel joined in the rescue, and as soon as they were able to get to her, still entrapped, did as much as an  assessment of the patient. An IV was started and a backboard carefully put in place to free Donna from her nightmare. She was then flown out.

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The entire ordeal lasted for 3 hours. Donna suffered several broken bones, including several ribs, both wrists, an arm and one leg, with many lacerations. Her recovery was a long one…one she never really fully came back from.

Donna and her children would have another accident approximately 2 years later, when a deer that ran out in front of her causing her to flip her vehicle. Donna would never drive again.

Neither of these incidents were the first time she had a brush with death. In 2004, complications from a gastric bypass surgery almost took her life. In fact, she crashed several times on the table and some afterward. Her situation was a very critical one, but she was finally sent home after a lengthy hospital stay with a long recovery ahead of her.

Through every ordeal she survived, she never lost her sense of humor or her sheer will to live. She loved life, her family, and her children, Whitney and Hannah, more than anything else in the world.

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Just recently, Donna went to the ER very sick, with breathing issues. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with medication. But she didn’t get any better.

The next night she would have to return to the ER with serious breathing problems. She was transported to UAB and further tests revealed  Donna had a hernia on  small intestine, which was the site of a very bad infection. The infection had also traveled to her lungs as well. She was medically sedated and put on a breathing tube. She underwent a five-hour surgery the next day to remove the hernia and rid her body of the infection. Doctors informed the family this infection could have possibly stemmed from a suture of her botched gastric bypass surgery eleven years before.

After the surgery, Donna was placed in a medically induced coma to allow her body to heal and fight off the infection in her lungs. With every obstacle she had overcome in her life, this one was the worst.

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Sadly, this was one Donna would not overcome. Tests revealed she had suffered a series of strokes, causing her brain to stop functioning. She was considered brain dead and placed on life support.  The family was given no hope at all, leaving them with one of the most difficult choices any family could ever make.

As many of you already know, Donna Kennedy passed away yesterday afternoon, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, after she was taken off of life support. She was just 39 years old.  And with all that had happened to her throughout her life, I’d venture to say she now wears the brightest, most beautiful set of golden wings that sparkle throughout the heavens.


What can I say about Donna? Well, I didn’t know her as well as some did, but I can tell you that she had this quirky sense of humor that would keep you laughing. She was a matter of fact kind of person and would tell you exactly what she thought. Every time she checked me out at Fred’s, I would leave there smiling.

Donna’s death comes just two months after her granddaughter, Allie, was laid to rest after a very premature birth. This broke Donna’s heart, but it is one of the few things that brings comfort to her family to know she is up there with Allie now, watching over her.

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Funeral services for Donna will be Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. at Benefield Funeral Home in Ashland with Rev. Jim Wilcox and Rev. J. J. Burkhalter officiating. Burial will follow in the New Prospect Baptist Church Cemetery.

The family will receive friends at Benefield Funeral Home in Ashland on Tuesday, August 11 from 5:30 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. and until service time on Wednesday.


Donna had no life insurance. Clay County Cycle Club will host Benefit Bike Ride in her memory on September 19th. If anyone is interested in donating to the burial expenses, please contact Brady Pitts.

Rest easy, Donna, your fight is over and you will be sorely missed…


Suspect nabbed after foot pursuit with community efforts

By: Tammy Andrews

A call to Lineville Police Dept was made today between 12 and 1 from Lineville Mapco stating that a black male, wearing a white t shirt wrapped around his head who was loitering and acting suspiciously. The clerk on duty said she became very uneasy when he came out from behind the building suddenly as she was taking her break.

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Lineville Police Investigator Chris Mathews responded to the scene and was met by a frantic juvenile who claimed the perpetrator had just snatched his cell phone out of his hands. When the suspect saw Mathews, he immediately ran.  The perpetrator was ensued on foot, and some in vehicles that led to a 45 minute chase.

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Local authorities, city workers and some volunteers combed the perimeter of South St, Parker St, Hwy 49S and 9N searching for the suspect. He was spotted again running across Hwy 9 and crossed over to Jackson Springs Rd, before he was apprehended around the Mitchell Street area by some amazing teamwork.

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Through the joint efforts of Lineville City Maintenance workers, Lineville Police Department, along with Lineville Police Investigator Chris Mathews, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and several volunteers,  surrounded the perpetrator, forcing his surrender.

Mathews wished to extend his gratitude to all these parties who helped make this capture possible. Clay County Rescue Squad was called to LPD to evaluate the suspect in custody and he refused transport.

More information will be released at a later date.


Cragford Bridge has a new namesake

By: Tammy Andrews

Not much happens in the sleepy little town of Cragford, but you wouldn’t have ever guessed that if you rode through there on Sunday, July 26th at 2:00 PM. That’s because on this historical date, the usually empty street was filled with citizens who had come to see Cragford’s most prominent citizen, Mr. Buster Robertson, as he was honored in a timeless fashion with one of the highest regards bestowed upon him and his family name.

Under this beautiful, yet sweltering, hot July day, well over a hundred people came out to watch history in the making as the Cragford Bridge was renamed The Buster Robertson Bridge. A most fitting honor, anyone would say who knows this kind man. Important political figures were speakers at this ceremony, such as State Senator Gerald Dial, State Representative Richard Laird, Major General Commander Mark C. Bowen and Brigadier General Wendell McClain as the unveiling took place.

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So, what does one achieve in life to deserve such an honor? Well, that list is long and is still ongoing. Mr. Robertson’s lifetime accomplishments speaks volumes, without ever leaving his hometown. Eighty seven years in Cragford, Alabama and although he has watched his birthplace dry up a little more with each passing year,  seeing nothing but boarded up businesses in his hometown, to him it is still paradise.

Buster was born in Cragford on January 9, 1928, right next door to the home he has owned now for almost 70 years now. As a young boy, he would work in his grandfather’s Auto Shop, which would one day be passed along to him. Buster would serve as owner of this successful business until he retired in 1994, leaving his son, Larry to take the reins as a fourth generation owner. Robertson’s Garage is considered to be the epicenter of Cragford, even now as the trusted family name keeps the business successful.

Buster graduated from Cragford School, which is no longer running, but serves as the Cragford Community Center. Buster married the love of his life, Mary Jo Walker, and was blessed with three children, Susan, Deborah, and Larry. Later, they would watch this family grow to add three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sadly, they would also say good-bye to daughter, Deborah, after she lost her bout with cancer.

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Buster and Mary Jo’s sixty seven years of marriage is one for the storybooks, because they don’t make marriages like that anymore. Buster said good-bye to his beautiful bride in February 2015, with promises to see her again one day in eternity.

Buster was a busy man with a strong work ethic. Besides running a successful business, he also served on the Board of Directors at First State Bank for over 30 years, and even served on the Board at Alabama Motorsports Hall of Fame. Buster was also a founding member of the Cragford-Corinth Fire Department, serving 22 years as an active member. He was also a Charter member of the Lineville Quarterback Club.

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Buster loved Auburn football and was a 10 lifetime member of the Auburn Alumni Association; Buster was very proud of the fact that all of his children graduated from Auburn University. Buster served with the Alabama National Guard Unit for 36 and a half years before he retired.

One of the Buster’s highest priorities in life has been his relationship with God.  The Robertson family have always been active members of the Cragford Baptist Church, where he has served as Deacon for over 60 years and running.

Even now in his retirement, he still works some on lawn mowers and tractors, and keeps the grass cut at the church and community center.  Buster has worn many hats well in his lifetime, to the degree that he leaves some tall shoes to fill one day.

Throughout his lifetime, Buster has watched the Cragford Bridge go from an old iron bridge with wooden floors to a beautiful curved bridge that ends almost at the front door of Robertson’s Garage.  And from now on, he will look at it very differently.

Cragford Bridge under construction
Cragford Bridge under construction

If you look closely as you ride over the bridge, you will see a well-built bridge with a good, solid, foundation. The curved architecture shows a uniqueness about the fine structure that no one else can mimic. Just like its new namesake…

Congratulations, Mr. Buster Robertson for giving this bridge a good name. You may not think you are worthy, but everyone else in Clay County thinks it’s well-deserved.  And Thank you for adding just a little more character to our county 🙂


wreck victim airlifted; suffers serious injuries

By: Tammy Andrews

Asking for prayers for Emil Jordan, who suffered serious injuries from this one-vehicle accident on Hwy 9 South just out of Ashland on Friday, July 10 around 4:30 PM.  Jordan was entrapped in his vehicle and hydraulic tools were used  by emergency personnel to extract him.jordan wreck

Jordan was taken by ambulance to the Clay County Hospital helipad where he was airlifted to Emory Hospital in Ga. Jordan’s injuries included a broken hip, crushed pelvis, and broken femur, and five (5) broken ribs. Jordan also has a blood clot in his lungs, which may take as long as 4 weeks to clear up. At present time, the main focus is getting his oxygen regulated.

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Emil’s wife, Debra wishes to thank all of the emergency personnel who helped at the accident scene as well: Clay County Rescue Squad, Ashland Police, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and Ashland Fire Department and all volunteers.

Mr. Jordan looks to have a long recovery period ahead of him. Debra wishes to thank everyone for their support thus far and asks that everyone keep those prayers coming because they are working!



Remembering Kara

By: Tammy Andrews

kara 2July 11, 2015….a day that will bear no significance to many, but to those who knew Kara Hay, it will forever be etched in their memory as the five year anniversary date a radiant princess went back home to live eternally with her King. And while their hearts may still be saddened from missing this lovely young woman, they are comforted by the fact that she walks among angels in a body made whole again, free from disease, hospitals, and sickness that plagued her most of her Earthly journey.

This may sound like the beginning to a very sad story to those who never knew Kara, but to those who did, they know it is anything but that. It is a story of a courageous young warrior who fought battles wearing a sweet smile and left behind a legacy of triumph, inspiration and hope.  This is Kara’s story as told by the woman who knew her best.

From the moment that beautiful little girl was laid in her arms on New Year’s Day, 1990, Karen’s heart swelled with love and pride as she gazed down at the blonde-headed cherub snuggled sweetly up to her. God had made her a mother, one of the finest titles he could bestow on her and she promised Him right then and there that she would do everything in her power for this little girl. Little did she know how quickly the battles would begin…

At just 11 weeks of age, when Kara began experiencing symptoms such as projectile vomiting and failure to thrive, Dr.’s ordered a sweat test which confirmed their fears. When Kara as diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at 13 weeks, and so her journey as a CF child began…

Since Kara was diagnosed with CF as an infant, she never knew kara 6anything but doctor visits and hospital stays. But this did little to daunt her sunny disposition, which made her a doctor’s favorite. She formed a lifelong relationship with one Dr. Sellers, whom she referred to as her “best buddy”.

One of the biggest influences on Kara’s life was her relationship with her Lord and Savior. She accepted Jesus Christ into her heart at the tender age of six years old and her faith never wavered throughout her Earthly journey. She could quote Bible scriptures before she could fairy tale rhymes.  One of her favorites was Isiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Kara refused to let her condition define her in life and she worked very hard to make sure that no one ever saw her sick or suffering. No matter what was going on with her, her focus was always on others. She was selfless and giving, which earned her lots of friends, as well respect from her peers.

Kara grew into a striking beauty with a dazzling smile that would melt your heat. With her charismatic personality, her witty banter and a real zest for life, people were drawn to her. And always, always a winning attitude regardless of what she faced.

kara 1Because she was missed so much school due to hospital stays, she was placed under the IDEA program, where she had teachers sent out to her home. Kara thrived in her schoolwork and finished within the top 10 of her class. After graduating from Lineville High School, she registered for classes at CACC, where she majored in graphic design, a long-time passion of hers. Kara had originally wanted to be a Registered Nurse, but because of her fragile condition, that was not an option. She was self-motivated and worked hard in all of her classes, despite her medical needs, which was a daily struggle.

CF is a grueling disease, which takes its toll over the body over a long period of time. Kara underwent multiple sinuses surgeries for polyps, had to wear an insulin pump for diabetes, had to take calcium shots every night, and numerous hospital stays. Towards the end, she had to have a feeding tube inserted and was taking almost 60 pills a day.

She went on the list in April 2010 for a double lung transplant, but her pulmonary functions had already begun deteriorating by that point after a bout with H1N1 virus and she was never able to recover. But she never lost her fight and people were shocked when she passed away because she made a point to never let anyone see her suffer. In fact, her final thoughts were of others, mostly her mother. It was very important to Kara that her mother was doing okay and she would ask her frequently.

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This was one of Kara’s favorite pictures with her mother because of the expressions on their face. It brought lots of laughs from both of them.

On the last ambulance ride, Kara looked at her mother and said “Mama, I’m in to win it, whether I’m in Heaven or not. I’m still going to win.”

During her last hospital stay on July 6th, Kara crashed, but after some time, they were able to revive her. Karen said after the crash, she had a little talk with God and told him that she was done and she was turning it over to Him for His will to be done. It was then that she felt an inner peace wash over her.

Kara’s last four days was spent with Karen by her side and she was able to have deep conversations with her daughter before her passing, another thing she feels so blessed over.

Sunday morning, July 11, 2010 dawned like just any other day. Karen was in the room with Kara during the last minutes of her life and much life her sweet daughter’s birth, was in awe of her surroundings. “You could just feel Jesus in the room. She was conscious the entire time, right up until the moment she passed. When reached her hand up in the air and I caught it, and I felt the life slip right out of her body. It was amazing.”

Kara was 20 years, six months and 10 days old when she passed. “I feel blessed to have gotten those 20.5 years with Kara, although I wish I would have had more”, says Karen.

Kara’s Memorial Service was a Celebration of her life in which all of kara 7her family and friends were asked to wear pink, Kara’s favorite color. The service was overseen by Karen with a multitude of family and friends sharing their fondest memories of Kara. There may have been a little tears mixed in with the laughter, but it seemed a fitting tribute to the girl who was once filled with so much life that she never wanted anyone to be sad.

The scripture that summed up Kara’s life appeared on her headstone from II Timothy 4:7, scripture on her headstone “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Very few words, yet so powerful if you knew her story.

The countless lives touched by Kara Hay are probably too many to name. Many who never even knew her were also touched by her story, even now after five years since her passing which never seems to amaze Karen.

Her “In it to win it” saying resulted in a Kara Hay Memorial 5K Walk/Run held every year in October, where all the proceeds to towards the Kara Hay Scholarship Fund awarded to selected students.

Karen’s nephew wrote a song about Kara after she passed called ”Free to Breathe”, which can be found on Itunes for just 99 cents. All proceeds from this song’s purchase goes toward the CF Foundation.  kara 4Another song was written from a poem Karen wrote about her daughter called “Unexplainable Peace”.

Does she miss her daughter? Most certainly…

“She was my best friend; my hair dresser, my patient, my student, my counselor, and most of all, my rock. When I was at my lowest, she was always there pulling me up”, says Karen, “Because of the life that I have led with my daughter, it has made me into the person I am and given me a purpose. I have fought for Kara in every aspect of her life; medically and in the educational field. She is the reason I want to become an advocate for the children. That’s just part of the legacy she leaves behind.”