Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 24, 2014

Former local athlete killed in crash

Raceland standout pronounced dead shortly after accident on I-64

RACELAND — A former standout athlete at Raceland-Worthington High School was killed Saturday evening in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 64 in Clark County.

Timothy Coleman “Cole” Thomas, 18, a freshman at the University of Pikeville, was pronounced dead at Clark Regional Medical Center shortly after the crash, which occurred about 7:45 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-64, about five miles east of Winchester, Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr. said.

According to Perdue, Thomas was traveling eastbound in a Chevrolet Blazer when the vehicle veered across the median, overturned several times and came to rest against the westbound guardrail. Thomas was ejected from the vehicle, he said.

The accident remains under investigation, but Perdue said preliminary findings indicate it may have been caused by low tire pressure. No avoidance maneuvers were detected and no human factors were cited by investigators, he said.

Word of Thomas’ death sent shockwaves throughout the Raceland community. On Sunday, his family and friends gathered at the Raceland-Worthington High School football field, where Thomas had played many games, to remember him with a candlelight vigil.

Thomas was also the reigning Class A Region 7 shot put champion and placed second in the state Class A track and field championships at the University of Louisville in May. Thomas’ efforts at the regional meet also helped boost the Rams to their first team title since 2009.

Thomas’ talents as a shot putter earned him an athletic scholarship to UPike. He and his friend and teammate, John Valencourt, a runner, both were approached by Pikeville men’s track coach John Biery during last year’s Area 7 Track and Field Championships at Paul G. Blazer High School.

Biery on Monday said he was devastated by Thomas’ death.

“He was always uplifting ... just a quality person,” he said. “The world’s going to miss Cole Thomas. He just made it a better place. He had so much to offer. It’s just so tragic to lose someone like that at such a young age.”

Biery also said Thomas’ athletic ability and character both would be impossible for him to replace.

“Our future was bright with him,” he said.

Although Thomas had graduated, he still had many friends at RWHS who were in mourning over his passing Monday, said Mickey Dixon, principal.

“He was really liked in our community and loved by our staff here at the school,” he said. “He was just a very respectful young man.”

Thomas could seem intimidating because of his size — he was 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds — but, in reality, he was a “gentle giant” who treated everyone with kindness, Dixon said.

On Monday, a school-wide collection drive for Thomas’ family raised nearly $550, and “We had some kids asking if we could do it again (on Tuesday,)” Dixon said.

Thomas’ family has deep roots in the Raceland community and with the high school. His mother, Christy Hewlett Reed, played basketball at RWHS under Coach Randy Vanderhoof and went on to play college hoops at Sue Bennett College. His maternal grandfather, Mike Hewlett, longtime president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1865, which represents hourly employees of AK Steel’s Ashland Works, was a multi-sport athlete at the high school.

Visitation for Thomas will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the old high school gymnasium. His funeral will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the same location. Evans Funeral Home of Raceland is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Coleman Thomas Memorial Fund at First & Peoples Bank and Trust in Greenup.

Also, a benefit event for Thomas’ family featuring live music, food and an auction will be at 1 p.m. April 5 in the old high school gym. Donations for the auction are being accepted at the Worthington City Building and at the Greenup County Detention Center, where Thomas’ stepfather, Kenneth Reed, is a long-time deputy jailer. For more information, call (606) 473-9660.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

Text Only
Local News
  • Stumbo questions Noah’s Ark incentives, backs off on expanded gambling

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of state incentives for a Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Grant County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Night Moves for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August in downtown Ashland from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Arts in the Vines’ will be in conjunction with U.S. 60 Yard Sale

    Offering a different taste of life in Carter County, the owners of RockSprings Winery are inviting locals and visitors to the U.S. 60 Yard Sale to spend some time in their vineyards during the first “Arts in the Vines” from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimes zeroes in on women’s issues with latest ad

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a third television ad posing questions from Grimes’ supporters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 30, 2014

  • UPDATE: OEA to investigate Fairview

    State education investigators were scheduled to arrive in the Fairview school district this morning to interview school officials.
    Superintendent Bill Musick on Wednesday confirmed that two teams of investigators from the state Office of Educational Accountability will interview him and other officials.
    Others to be interviewed include school board members, council members of Fairview High and Fairview Middle schools, finance director Ernie Sharp and pupil personnel director Brant Creech.
    Interviews will be conducted at the high school and the middle school.
    The nature of the inquiry is unclear, because the OEA doesn’t release information on its investigations other than final reports.
    Musick said the OEA hadn’t told him what the investigation is about. “I don’t know a single question they’re going to ask,” he said. He said such visits are “not unusual.”
    Other sources say complaints have been lodged with the OEA about a number of irregularities, and that the OEA will examine Musick’s status and whether the board acted illegally in February when it rescinded its acceptance of his resignation.
    Musick had announced his retirement and tendered his resignation in the wake of a separate investigation by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association that penalized the district for using an ineligible player in 2012 and 2013.
    Musick said then that he was ready for retirement but later said he had had a change of heart and asked the board to reconsider his resignation.
    The Kentucky Department of Education’s legal department said the rehiring was illegal but the finding doesn’t have any enforcement power and the school board has not taken any further action.
    MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

    July 30, 2014

  • Stumbo says Bissett 'handpicked' by McConnell

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo said Wednesday there’s an obvious reason the president of the Kentucky Coal Association has publicly defended Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s support of the coal industry.

    July 30, 2014

  • colepotteronline.jpg Acoustic jam night at Callihan's

    With the onset of  patio season, the staff at Callihan’s American Pub & Grill have adopted a new program for Wednesday’s open-invitation entertainment with the all new Callihan’s Acoustic Jam Session, providing a stage for local talent and a spotlight for a featured musician each week.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf scramble will benefit Paramount Arts Center

    Paramount Woman’s Association’s seventh annual Ladies’ Golf Scramble is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 30, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Parking, history, and some wiffleball

    The calendar flips to August tomorrow and some students in the area will be back in school next week.

    July 30, 2014

  • Students need better counseling to contribute more to the region, working group says

    A group studying how education can lift the economy of Appalachian Kentucky has several ideas, including a “counseling for careers” approach that would begin for students no later than middle school and continue through high school.

    July 30, 2014