DOTHAN, ALABAMA- In what has to be one of the most tragic things to happen on Christmas day for a family, let alone multiple ones, three young teenage girls passed away after being involved in a single vehicle car crash that had taken place in Dothan, Alabama at around 6:00 p.m. on Christmas night.
The three young teens were all friends at a local high school.
It’s hard to fathom how bad the family and community is hurting after the loss of three young cheerleaders from Geneva High School that lost their lives while driving in an SUV off of Westville Avenue and crashed in a wooded area.
Cassidy Dunn, Emilee Fain and Addyson Martin, all either sophomores or juniors at the school, died as a result of the crash; while two other passengers survived and are undergoing medical treatment. All of the girls were 16-years-old when they passed.
Geneva Police Chief Tony Clemmons stated that the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but was able to confirm that alcohol was not a factor in the in the accident. Lt. Michael McDuffie, a spokesman for the Geneva Police Department, also concurred with the notion that it’s tough to determine what caused the accident.
McDuffie offered possible influences that could have led to the tragic car accident:
“We’re not sure for what reason they lost control, but it hit a big oak tree. It could have been a deer ran out in front of them.”
What is known, according to Geneva County Coroner Donny Adkinson, is that all the passengers who were in the front seat during the crash had died from the impact; while the two friends in the back survived.
Police and sheriff’s deputies were still on the scene as of Thursday, trying to determine what could have possibly happened that caused the teens to drive head on into a wooded area and crash into a tree.
At the same time while authorities were working possible scenarios, friends and loved ones of the girls gathered over to the First Baptist Church. Grief counselors were on deck at the church in order to aid community members affected by the tragedy.
Geneva City School Board President Russell Clausell summarized the affects associated with the loss of the young teens this past Wednesday, detailing that those who were close to the three will likely never see the holiday season as a time for celebration anymore:
“Christmas will never be the same for this community, especially the families that have to endure this.”
Superintendent of Geneva County Schools, Ron Snells, also detailed the impact the young women had on their community, citing the amount of those gathered to remember them and the diversity amid those mourning:
“Those girls touched a lot of lives, and that’s why you see the real hurt and the coming together of young and old. In the weeks and days ahead, we’ll rally around the families, but today we just have to mourn.”
First Baptist Church Geneva Pastor Ed Scott did his best to offer comfort to those hurting, while acknowledging the reality that comes with loss:
“There’s not anything that we can do to change the hurt and make it go away, but being here allows us to start the process of grieving.”
We here at Law Enforcement Today wish to extend our prayers and condolences to the families and loved ones of Cassidy Dunn, Emilee Fain and Addyson Martin. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than to lose a child, especially ones so young and full of potential.
In a separate story out of Las Vegas, just a couple of days before Christmas, a disabled veteran was killed in a terrible fire – all while saving lives.
An Alpine Motel Apartments maintenance employee is credited with saving several lives on Saturday, racing down smoke-filled and flame-filled corridors, banging on doors, telling everyone to wake up and get out.
In downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, residents of the apartment complex described the maintenance worker, whom they knew only as “Don”, as a hero.
The co-owner of the building, Malinda Mier, said she knew the maintenance man as military veteran Don Bennett.
The witnesses said they assumed Bennett might have been severely wounded or killed in the fire, and family members confirmed that the 63-year-old disabled Marine veteran passed away in the blaze.
One of the residents, Anthony Meadows Jr., stated:
“The guy … who saved everybody’s life? His name is Don. He was the maintenance man. He was a veteran. He stayed on the second floor in Apartment #25. Don knocked on everyone’s door and said, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’”
Meadows said he and his girlfriend would probably not have survived if not for Don.
Bennett knocked at the door of Meadows and was then seen running through hallways dense with smoke, banging on doors, urging people to get out just after 4 a.m.
Most of the residents of the apartment complex were fast asleep while the fire was raging. Meadows and his girlfriend eventually got out of their own apartment when firefighters rescued them from burning building using a ladder.
Meadows had detailed the gruesome scene of the fire that took place on Saturday, describing a disturbing recount of people doing anything to escape the flames:
“People running and jumping out of windows. A pregnant woman jumped out of a window.”
Resident Floyd Guenther, stated he was staying on the Alpine’s third floor. At the time of the blaze, he was up and intended to go to a nearby store for a drink and some food. He walked downstairs and saw the fire raging.
It was at that point that he too began to bang on people’s doors to alert them of the fire.
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Guenther detailed the events from his perspective that early morning:
“I saw a glow, like a fire, so I ran back up the stairs on every floor, hitting the doors, pulling the alarm systems, and none of them went off and none of the smoke detectors went off.
The maintenance guy, Don, he was trying to kick the back stairway doors open, and he couldn’t get them open. The back door to the apartment complex was bolted shut, locked up. Couldn’t get out of it.”
Both Bennett and Guenther worked to rescue as many people as they both could until the fire became too intense for Guenther and he proceeded to the side of the building. He mentioned that Bennett was still trying to get people out of a back door that wasn’t opening.
Mier broke down in tears when she was asked about Bennett’s heroic actions that night, because she’s all too aware of the reports coming in that Bennet didn’t survive.
When the notion of Bennet having not survived was brought up, Mier stated:
“That’s what people are speculating … he might be somewhere, hopefully. We just have to hope for the best.”
Sadly, the Marine veteran and father of three didn’t make it that morning.
However, his actions have given new life to those who might have been consumed by the fire if he hadn’t heroically work to save the lives of the residents within the complex.
This hero is the embodiment of “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” We’ll be praying for the family of this amazing man; and while those who love him may have lost him, they’ll know that his final acts in this world were nothing but courage and selflessness.
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