Vigil will mark day 7 children died in crash


Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 11:52 p.m.

A vigil tonight will honor the memory of seven children, killed a year ago when a semi struck their car as they were stopped behind a school bus in Union County.

Cynthia Nicole "Nikki" Mann, 15; Elizabeth Mann, 15; Johnny Mann, 13; Heaven Mann, 3; Anthony Lamb, 20 months; Ashley Keen, 14; and Miranda Finn, 10, died in the Jan. 25 wreck on Jan. 25, 2006. Nine students and the driver on the school bus also were injured in the crash State 121.

"I feel like the community is moving on, but it's something the community will never forget," said Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead.

In September, the State Attorney's Office charged the semi's driver, Alvin Eugene Wilkerson, 32, of Jacksonville, on seven counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of manslaughter by culpable negligence and 10 counts of culpable negligence. The case is still pending and is set for a court hearing next month.

The vigil starts at 6 p.m. outside of Lake Butler Elementary School, off of SR 121, Whitehead said. Participants will march down the street to Union County High School.

On the case

The University of Florida C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory will be assisting South Florida authorities in identifying the mummified body of a baby boy found earlier this week.

A woman emptying her parents' storage unit in Delray Beach found the baby wrapped in newspaper from the New York and New Jersey area dated from Jan. 9, 1957, The Associated Press reported. The woman's parents had died within the past few years.

Anthony Falsetti, the laboratory's director, said an examination of the body will begin this week. The laboratory, which handles about 100 cases a year, tries to determine the age and ancestry of the individual and looks for any sign of injury that may have been related to the person's death.

Hawthorne's chief

After a nationwide search, the city of Hawthorne has hired Oneonta, N.Y., Police Chief Jack Donadio to take the helm of the city's new police department.

"We got some awesome resumes," said Hawthorne City Manager Chad Shryock. "Any of the three we chose to interview would have been a great police chief. There's just something about Jack that we felt he was the best choice."

Shryock said Donadio has 37 years of law enforcement experience, including 24 years as chief in Oneonta. Donadio will be in charge of basically activating the police department, from hiring officers to establishing the communications system. His official start date will be March 12.

Safe fun

Area law enforcement and fire rescue departments are among several agencies hosting Family Fun & Safety Day at Butler Plaza East on Saturday.

The event aims to educate kids and families about the dangers children can face and what they can do to protect themselves. Topics will include "stranger danger," fire safety and child safety seats.

The program runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parents can get identification cards for their children if they bring a certified copy of a birth certificate and a Social Security card for their child. For more information, go to www.alachuasheriff.org.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top