Three tragic car accidents in Texas have taken three respected members of Tyler County from the community this summer and the county is mourning the loss of these influential and beloved men.
Buddy Wilkinson Buddy Wilkinson died in a car accident on July 19 in Longview, Texas. Wilkinson was the father of three children and had five grandchildren. According to his daughter, Danasa Rawls, he was very involved with his kids, grand kids and Tyler County.
"Beauty pageants, dance recitals, cow shows, baseball games and football games, no matter what was going on, Daddy was there," Rawls said. "He took us deer hunting, coon hunting, truck riding, fishing and even camping in the back of a lowboy trailer filled with haybales and blankets."
Wilkinson also coached little league, served on the school board and hosted numerous benefits at his farm. "We will always continue to help our little town because that is what he would have wanted us to do," Rawls said.
Wilkinson had a huge passion for his five grandchildren – Kaleb, Hunter, Sunnie Madison, Ty and Rankin Tuff. "He was all about his grandkids," his son, Matt Wilkinson said.
"They made that man turn into mush," Rawls added.
Wilkinson was married to his wife, Janice, in 1969 and they would celebrate 45 years of marriage together. Wilkinson joined the Army and served from 1969 to 1973 and served his country in the Vietnam War. He received a purple heart and congressional medal of honor. Wilkinson began as an infantry man and later became a machine gun operator, then went back for a second tour and was made crew chief. He also owned several Tyler County Businesses, G&W Logging, W&G Trucking and NAPCO.
"God broke the mold when he made my Daddy," Rawls said. "There are parts of him in myself and my brothers. He was proud of his family and we are proud of him."
James Nichols James "Jim" Nichols died in a three-car accident near Doucette on July 16 that caused his death and injured one other driver.
According to his wife, Elaine Nichols, Jim was a strong, hard man with a soft, warm heart who loved his grandchildren and made sure they all knew.
"Jim was always there to help out anyone in the community," Nichols said. "He would help neighbors bail hay, let someone borrow a trailer or try to teach the local boys the importance of hard work. In his younger years he participated in Dogwood and Western Weekend, and was an avid rider."
His family says that they believe Nichols would say that his greatest accomplishment was his family. He had five children, 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. "He celebrated with us at graduations, marriages and births," Nichols said.
Jim Nichols was known by many within Tyler County and made a difference in many people's lives.
"I can definitely say he influenced numerous individuals within the county," said Nichols. "He was also there to offer guidance and assist anyone. He always saw the best in people, no matter what they had done in their past and I believe that helped a lot of people."
Danny Self Danny Self died on June 28 near Hillister in a car accident. For years, he was an influential businessman in Tyler County, but his family says he was first and foremost a family man.
"He loved his wife and children, but his grandchildren were the reason that he got out of bed every morning," Lorrie Johnston said. "He loved spending time with his 'kids.'"
Self lost his right leg in 1981 in an oilfield accident, but he felt that he had to show the world and himself that he could still do what he wanted to do, from riding a bike to flying an airplane to becoming the first amputee to graduate from the Kilgore Police Academy.
"Being able to help others was a passion of his," Johnston said. "He was someone you could count on and he always put others before himself. If you went to him with a problem he would do everything he could to solve it."
His family says they will cherish the wonderful memories that they have of him until they see him again.
A Silsbee man was arrested in Woodville for several serious Silsbee warrants, as well as new drug charges in Tyler County.
Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department said that they had been notified by the assistant police chief in Silsbee that a wanted suspect had been staying at a residence in Woodville. Shortly after, Woodville police, along with Silsbee police, obtained the address of the home and set up a short surveillance on the property.
It was determined that the suspect, identified as Keniel J Elam, age 28, of Silsbee, was in the residence. Elam was wanted in Silsbee for several felonies, including felony evading, assault on a public servant and deadly conduct.
After identifying the suspect,, officers went to the residence, located on the 1000th block of Albert Drive. The adult residents gave officers permission to search the home, and Captain McCulley, Sergeant Borel, Chief Yosko, and Officer Deshazo of the Woodville Police Department, and Officer Blackwell and Officer Rogers of the Silsbee Police Department, all converged on a sweep and search of the house.
Elam was found in a bedroom underneath the bed and was arrested without incident. "Lying next to Elam on the floor was a blue duffel bag that contained narcotics and money," McCulley said. "The drugs consisted of 200 grams of cocaine, 3 ounces of hydro marijuana, 3 grams of what appeared to be ecstasy tablets, 3 grams of xanax, along with $1,000 in cash." The bag also contained Elam's ID card.
"It's always nice when you have that happen when you are eliminating any other possible suspects," McCulley said.
Elam was charged with Manufacture Delivery of Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1, with Manufacture Delivery of Controlled Substance Penalty Group 2, with Manufacture Delivery of Controlled Substance Penalty Group 3, Possession of Marijuana, along with the Silsbee Warrants.
An additional resident of the home, identified as Kedra Lee, age 20, who claimed to be Elam's girlfriend, was also charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution of a Felon.
Elam is currently in custody on the Silsbee warrants in the Hardin County jail. There is a hold on him for the Tyler County warrants. The Texas Pardon and Parole Board also wanted Elam for a Blue warrant.
Deputies recently arrested a man in Ivanhoe on drug charges after finding what appeared to be crack rocks and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle during a simple traffic stop.
On July 11, at approximately 5 p.m., Tyler County Sheriff's Deputies stopped a green Dodge truck for speeding and not maintaining a single lane in Ivanhoe on Lakewood Drive. When deputies made contact with the driver, who was identified as Daniel King, age 54 of Woodville, they advised King that he had been driving over the speed limit and King told deputies that he agreed that he was doing 10 miles over the posted speed limit.
"King seemed extremely nervous so officers were suspicious of what he might be carrying," said Phil Ryan with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department. "Deputies asked King if he had any illegal weapons or narcotics in the vehicle."
According to Ryan, King said that he had no weapons but refused to provide an answer about the narcotics.
King granted permission to search his vehicle and when deputies began the search they found some pieces of white substance in the drivers seat, which were consistent with the use of crack cocaine. They were field tested by the deputies and were indicative of cocaine. King was then arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1 and his bond was set at $2,500.
After King's arrest, deputies continued the search of his extremely cluttered vehicle and found a piece of foil that contained four crack rocks which were also field-tested and came up positive for cocaine. Deputies also found a glass cylinder with a brillo pad inside, which is also indicative of someone smoking crack cocaine, Ryan said.
"All the evidence gathered was packaged and sent off to the DPS crime lab for verification of the substance and the weight of the substance," Ryan said.
Charges against King could escalate once those test results come back.
"We have had quite a few drug arrest in Ivanhoe and our deputies are cracking down on that area, so this was a good way to get someone in the Ivanhoe area off the streets," Ryan said.
"We would love anyone with information about drug use in Ivanhoe to contact the Sheriff's office."
A Woodville man was arrested on Independence Day for drinking and driving, a huge problem on a holiday weekend and one local law enforcement has no tolerance for.
According to Phil Ryan with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, deputies were on routine patrol in the Dam-B area when they observed a small red pickup truck traveling north on Highway 92 near the fire station. The vehicle was clocked at 10 miles over the speed limit, and the deputy turned around to make a traffic stop.
After turning around, the deputy observed the vehicle make a premature right turn onto County Road 4130 and veered onto the grass and up a hill before getting back on the pavement.
According to Ryan, the deputy activated his emergency lights and the driver attempted to evade, but after the deputy activated his siren, the driver brought the vehicle to a stop. The driver, identified as Robert Ferguson, age 24, of Woodville, claimed to have insurance but no drivers license.
"The deputy detected the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle so he asked Ferguson to exit the vehicle for further questioning," Ryan said. "Ferguson was not steady on his feet and told deputies that he had drank 3 or 4 beers."
Deputies confirmed that Ferguson's license was suspended. He was placed under arrest for Driving while License Invalid.
Upon arrival at the Tyler County Jail state troopers conducted tests on the subject. A breath sample was taken and it was determined that he was intoxicated.
Ferguson was charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Driving While License Invalid.
Two Ivanhoe men were arrested July 3 when Sheriff's Deputies found drugs in their homes and vehicles. The deputies were there because one of the men had reported a burglary.
According to Phil Ryan with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, several Tyler County deputies were dispatched to Dogwood Circle in Ivanhoe in reference to a burglary on July 3 at approximately 10 p.m. A white male identified as Gregory Haughton, age 31, of Woodville, met the deputies. He told them someone had broken into his house and stolen several items. Deputies walked through, looking for evidence, and observed a clear plastic bag commonly used for the packaging of illegal narcotics.
When deputies presented the bag to Haughton, he said he did not know where it came from. Deputies also observed two guitars that Houghton tried to report as stolen, as well as several other items suspected to be stolen from the Ivanhoe area.
"Haughton became increasingly agitated during the search and did not consent to a search of his vehicle, so deputies called in a drug dog," Ryan said. "But, before the dog arrived,
Haughton admitted to deputies that he had smoked marijuana and consented to the search." Deputies uncovered a partially smoked marijuana cigarette from Haughton's vehicle, and he was placed under arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Haughton told the deputies that another person, identified as Kenneth Evans, was renting the home at the time.
According to Ryan, deputies made contact with Evans and he granted permission to search his vehicle. A white powdery substance that was believed to be an illegal narcotic was found in his vehicle. Evans also allowed deputies to search his residence, and when they got to the bedroom of the residence they found several drug paraphernalia items related to the use of marijuana and methamphetamine. Deputies also found two bags with a substance believed to be methamphetamine, pipes and syringes, and marijuana.
Deputies transported both Haughton and Evans to the Tyler County Jail. They will be charged once DPS lab tests come back to positively identify the drugs.
Woodville Police are asking for the communities help in identifying the person or persons involved in a brazen burglary at the Medicine Shop Pharmacy that occurred in broad daylight.
According to Woodville Police Captian Mike McCulley, Officer Zachary Zachary was dispatched to a business alarm at the Medicine Shoppe on West Bluff Street on June 28 at approximately 3 p.m. When they arrived, officers observed several broken windows and the alarm had been activated.
The suspects were gone but it appeared that the suspects had broken the windows out by throwing a rock through the glass. Once inside, it appeared the suspects rummaged through the pharmacy in search of prescription medications.
"We think the suspect was trying to find a controlled substance that is commonly found on the streets," McCulley said. "It was a little brazen of them to commit this crime in the daylight. Most burglaries happen at night so they can use the cover of darkness to their advantage, this person was apparently pretty desperate to do something like this in the middle of the day."
McCulley said he thinks the suspects were scared once the alarm sounded and they left without stealing anything.
Officers interviewed witnesses in the area who observed a suspect exiting the building in a hurry after the alarm was activated. He was described as a black male with a black shirt, black shorts and white shoes. No other description was given. He was last seen running north on Kelley Boulevard.
Officers were able to lift fingerprints from the scene, which are being identified at this time.
"We are asking for the public's help in identifying anyone involved this particular burglary," McCulley said. "You will remain anonymous. We just need the information," he said.
Any tips can be called into the Police Station or Sheriff's Department.
Contact the Woodville Police Tip Line at 283-5262.