Weather-Related Fatality

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Icy weather caused single Panola death

By Billy Davis

Funeral services are Saturday for a woman who died after her automobile hit an icy patch of highway and flipped.

The service for Carolyn A. Whitehead, 49, will be held at 1 p.m. at Quitman County Elementary School. Burial will be in Booker Cemetery in Marks.

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Whitehead, of Lambert, was killed January 7 on Highway 51 between Batesville and Sardis. She was commuting to work in Sardis when her Pontiac Grand Prix left the roadway and skidded into a ravine.

Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge said Whitehead was Panola County’s only fatality that resulted from wintry precipitation, which blanketed North Mississippi last week.

The arctic cold front was followed by frigid temperatures, and authorities were concerned for the safety of Panolians, especially the elderly, due to single-digit temperatures.

“I can tell you the sheriff’s department really did a good job of checking on the elderly,” said Daniel Cole, director of Panola County Emergency Management.

Cole and others reported Monday that some churches and individuals are aiding an Enid woman who was displaced from her home because of sub-freezing temperatures.

The Panolian reported last week that Nancy Norden, who was comfortable and warm in a hotel room, had sought help from the sheriff’s department. When local officials investigated, they found that Norden, 61, was living in a dilapidated mobile home without heat.

Now, several area churches are expected to help Norden purchase a mobile home, said county supervisor Kelly Morris.  

“The mobile home she’s living in – it’s beyond repair,” Morris reported.

Enid Baptist Church has also paid for Norden to remain another week at the hotel, he said.

Panola County also experienced two house fires over the weekend.

An overloaded wood heater was said to be the cause of a January 8 house fire on Murphey Ridge Road. That fire damaged one room before it was contained.

The cause of the second fire, which destroyed a mobile home on Willow Road, was unknown, said Sardis Fire Chief Chuck Moore.

Family members have helped the mobile home’s residents find shelter, Cole said.

The wintry weather was also blamed for water problems within the Independence Water Association.

Cole, citing a report from the water association, said customers experienced low water pressure due to dripping faucets.

Whitehead’s one-vehicle accident occurred just north of Ballentine Road, where she was traveling downhill in a well-shaded area of the highway.

She was employed as an energy assistance clerk at non-profit Mid-State Opportunity, Inc., a spokesman for the agency said.