Local News

May 27, 2014

Varnell police officer placed on leave

A Varnell Police officer involved in a wreck that injured another man on Cleveland Highway last week has been placed on administrative leave, Police Chief Lyle Grant said on Tuesday.

Grant would not comment further, saying an open records request would need to be filed with City Clerk Pam Garrison. A response to that request had not been sent by Garrison as of Tuesday afternoon.

John Patrick Hayes was driving his patrol car south in the right-hand lane on Cleveland Highway near Broadacre Road when he attempted a U-turn, striking a car in the left-hand southbound lane, according to a report from the Georgia State Patrol.

According to the report, Hayes “made an improper turn in front of” the other vehicle. Hayes was given a warning by the state patrol for making an improper turn.

The patrol car struck a Jeep Cherokee driven by David Gambrell of Dalton, who was not wearing his seat belt, the report states. The Jeep rolled three times, ejecting Gambrell, it states.

According to the report, the Jeep came to “a final uncontrolled rest approximately 123 feet on its roof facing north in the central turn lane.” Gambrell was approximately 71 feet from the Jeep in the right northbound lane of Cleveland Highway.

Gambrell was airlifted by Life Force to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga with a spinal injury, the report states. Hayes was not injured.

A post on the Varnell Police Department’s Facebook page says, “To dispel rumors there was a traffic accident involving a patrol car yesterday evening 05/21/2014 the driver of the of the [sic] Jeep was injured but is expected a full recovery. There were no high speeds, in fact the patrol car was traveling less than 20 mph, the Jeep was at the speed limit or less. Our prayers are with both parties.”

A phone number for Hayes could not be found. A spokeswoman for Erlanger said Gambrell’s name was not listed as a patient. Reasons for it not being listed could be that he has been discharged or he has asked to keep his condition confidential, she said.

This is the second wreck involving an officer with the Varnell Police Department within the last few years. Former officer James Smith pleaded guilty in July 2013 to first degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving for a wreck where he was driving his patrol car at 104 mph on Cleveland Highway. He collided with a Dodge Neon driven by 70-year-old Leon Thurman, killing Thurman. Smith was sentenced to 10 years probation, a $2,500 fine, 300 hours of community service and a lifetime ban on working in law enforcement.

Text Only
Local News
  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Investigation into MFG chemical accident continues

    An investigation is still ongoing after a MFG Chemical employee was injured earlier this month at a plant on Kimberly Park Drive.

    July 25, 2014

  • Judge sets $100,000 bond for Cohutta man accused of incest, molestation

    A Cohutta man charged with incest, aggravated sodomy and child molestation was granted a $100,000 bond over the prosecutor’s objection on Friday.

    July 25, 2014