Lowndes County crews cut down oak that claimed lives

August 23, 2014 11:34:39 PM

William Browning - [email protected]


The tree that took three lives along Officers Lake Road late last month is no more. Lowndes County road crews cut it down nearly two weeks ago. 


It was a red oak. 


"We cut the tree down because it killed somebody," Ronnie Burns, Lowndes County road manager, said. 


It was about three feet thick. 


It stood roughly five feet from the road's pavement.  


On July 27, sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., a Nissan sedan traveling north on Officers Lake Road slammed into the tree, which sat in a long curve. Three of five men in the car died in the one-car accident. They were 22-year-old Tyler Thompson, 32-year-old Dontay Evans and 40-year-old Eddie Lee. 


In the days that followed, a memorial went up around the tree's scarred base. There were three bouquets from The Pickled Petunia. All around, too, was debris -- a car battery in the woods, a piece of hood, a piece of speaker, an arm rest -- that reminded of the violent crash. 


At least one Lowndes County resident called District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham with concerns. 


"I've got people in West Point and we travel that road sometimes," Gretta Gardner said. "I didn't want that to go unnoticed, because I've got grandchildren and there are other children who travel that road." 


Gardner, a retired educator, said she hopes the removal of the tree saves lives. 


"He cut it down," she said, "and that's a blessing." 


Burns, though, cautioned people who travel the rural road frequently.  


"We've got a lot of trees that are pretty close," he said. "If you leave the road, you can hit a tree about anywhere." 


Dispatch reporter Nathan Gregory contributed to this story.

William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.