Local News

January 31, 2014

‘I appreciate everyone’

Daughter of woman who died during snow event thanks responders

Getting Bronnie Lee Hollifield to an ambulance that couldn’t make it up an icy hill or navigate around vehicles blocking another route took more than an hour after the 911 call came in, but the woman’s daughter said she appreciates the effort and knows her mother would say the same thing if she could.

Hollifield, who lived with daughter Violet Hall at the top of a hill on King’s Row in Varnell, died late Tuesday night at Hamilton Medical Center a few hours after first responders were finally able to get her to the hospital to be treated after she was having trouble breathing. She was 91.

“She was loved dearly,” Hall said. “She had outlived seven children. She had nine children, and I’m the baby.”

Responders’ difficulty reaching Hollifield due to 23 vehicles parked in the middle of and to the sides of Village Drive — a main route to her home — triggered a series of actions that resulted in the Varnell Police Department towing all the vehicles and sticking their owners with the bills. Police have taken flak as several residents complained authorities should have towed only as many vehicles as needed to make a path for emergency vehicles rather than targeting everyone on the street. Many neighborhood residents parked on the road after they were unable to navigate the icy hill during Tuesday’s snow and frigid temperatures.

Hall didn’t blame her mother’s death on the situation. She said her mother was suffering from some health issues and believed she was ready to go. Yet Hall misses her. Hollifield had lived with her for about six years, Hall said.

“I do apologize for the cars that were being towed, but you know what, my mother’s life ... I can’t get her back,” she said.

Hall said her mother lived a hard life at times but a full one. She worked with Stoney Ponders at Shaw Industries before Ponders went into the funeral home business, Ponders said, and after retirement from there she worked at Quinton Memorial Health Care. Ponders described her as a “super nice lady” and “very hard worker” who pulled 12-hour shifts alongside him when Ponders was still a teenager. She attended Lakeshore Baptist Church and loved her family, Hall said.

“She was loved dearly,” Hall added. “I do appreciate everyone who helped with my mother.”

She said that included the firefighters and EMTs who responded as well as her nurse, Linda Hawkins, and nursing assistant, Rhonda Cochran, from United Hospice in Calhoun.

Police Chief Lyle Grant has said he ordered all the vehicles parked on Village Drive to be removed after responders had so much trouble getting to Hollifield. He said that while no other emergencies in that area arose that night, he had to be prepared. The process of towing the cars took hours and wasn’t complete until early Wednesday morning.

Several neighbors who had their cars towed said they understood the need to clear the road but wished officials had left alone the vehicles that were only partially in the roadway. Grant said wreckers had to clear all the vehicles to safely get to the ones causing the main issues. He and other officers involved said they also wanted to be fair by not picking and choosing which vehicles to tow when all were technically violating state law by parking at least partially in the road. None of the owners received citations, Grant said.

P.J. Eubanks, whose wife Latrelle was among those with a towed vehicle, said he believes the situation was mishandled. Eubanks is urging those affected to voice their concerns at the next Varnell City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m.


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