Sheriff Says Action Needs To Be Taken
Darren Doyle, story:
The installation of locked gates for flood-prone roads in the county was introduced by Sheriff Shane Doyle at today's Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting.
In his regular sheriff's report, he discussed the recent incident where a woman attempted to cross the flooded Alexander Creek on Oak Hill Road in the Wingfield Community. The sheriff reported earlier that the woman drove around the "road closed" sign and attempted the cross the flooded area. By doing so, her car flooded and went under the water where she and her 7-year old son escaped but her 20-month old baby died as result of the accident.
"I think this is necessary," said Sheriff Doyle in the meeting. "I'm not saying our county did anything wrong in this. We have signs in place that show the area could flood and there was a "road closed" sign in plain sight that the mother drove around, and I hate to even use the term 'mother' here. Ultimately, this woman made a choice to ignore the sign and put her children's lives in danger. A locked gate could prevent this in the future."
Doyle said that Jailer Hank Vincent, also an EMT who responded at the scene that night, was also in favor of installing a locking gate.
Magistrate Clark Wood asked if gates would be needed on both sides of bridges, and Doyle responded yes. Emergency Manager Terry Massey said he felt like the gates should be installed on any bridge or roadway in the county where the potential for flooding exists, not just the one on Oak Hill Road.
County Road Supervisor Greg Carroll said the gates could be installed in places that wouldn't negatively affect the homeowners in the area. Sheriff Doyle said the only access it would affect other than the bridges would be farm land in those areas, but if the areas are flooded, the farm land wouldn't need to be accessed anyway.
Judge Cannon said that in the event the gates were installed, the county would have to make a better effort to monitor all the bridges. He said the county has always done a great job by doing so, but in this case, the waters rose over the bridge during the night before. Carroll said the county closed the road as soon as they discovered that water was over the road.
Judge Cannon asked County Attorney Greg Vincent about potential liability if gates were installed but they weren't locked as soon as water came over the road. Vincent said the liability would be no different than it already is. He said once a road is closed, it's closed, period, gate or not.
Judge Cannon said discussion for these types of situations would be discussed at the next Local Emergency Planning Commission meeting.
"We're going to have an after-action review of this incident at the next LEPC meeting," he said. "We're going to discuss this situation, what we could've done better, what we shouldn't have done, and things of that nature."
Magistrate Mark Meeks commended the local emergency workers for how they handled the accident.
"All our police, sheriff's office, our firefighters, and medical personnel did a great job on this," he said. "I want to tell them I appreciate all they did here."
Judge Cannon said the county will look into available options and costs for putting up the gates and discuss later.
Other county offices gave their regular reports.
Road Report: County Road Supervisor Greg Carroll reported that multiple bridges had been under water since the last meeting. he also said crews had been working on tiles and taking care of drainage ditches throughout the county.
Deputy Jailer Todd Vincent reported 26 county inmates are currently being housed at Hart County Jail
County Clerk Kevin Alexander reminded the court that his office would be closed on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 due to the governor's inauguration. He said because state offices will be closed, his local office will not have access to the state system, which is necessary for his office to operate.
The court also voted to: