Around East Texas 06/25/07

Missing East Texas Woman

The search continues for a missing East Texas woman. Shirley Hunt has Alzheimer's. She's from Henderson County and has been missing since last Tuesday. Over the weekend search crews looked for her by land and air. She was last seen walking along a county road near her home, just outside of Henderson. Her family fears she may have asked for a ride to either Henderson or Amarillo.

Lady Bird Johnson Hospitalized

Former First Lady and native East Texan, Lady Bird Johnson, remains in the hospital today. A family spokeswoman says there has been little change in Johnson's condition. Johnson was admitted into the hospital three days ago with a low grade fever. There is no word yet on when the former First Lady, who is 94 years old, will be able to leave the Austin hospital. Johnson is a native of Karnack in Harrison County.

Tyler Fatal Accident

A pregnant Tyler woman and her unborn child are dead after an alleged drunk driver hit their car. Tyler police say the woman, identified as 31-year old Martha Mondragon, was headed west bound on Front Street, when an S-U-V ran a red light slamming into her.  Police say witnesses tried to assist Mondragon at the scene. Mondragon was later taken to a local hospital where doctors performed an emergency C-section, but the baby and Mondragon did not survive. Mondragon also had her six-year old daughter in the car. She was taken to Children's Medical Center in Dallas and is in fair condition. Police say the driver of the S-U-V that hit her was intoxicated. "The subject was identified as 19 they further learned he was 16. At which time he was charged with the vehicular manslaughter charges," said Sergeant Bill Goecking with the Tyler Police Department. The 16-year old driver from Carthage has been charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter, one count of intoxication assault and one count of failure to identify.

Fatal House Fire

A fatal house fire in northeast Texas kills two children. Our sister station in Shreveport tells us this happened in Simms in Bowie County.  Two children were killed and a third was injured critically when fire swept through their home in a tiny rural community west of Texarkana.  The fire happened early before dawn today in Simms. The community of about 240 residents is about 25 miles west of Texarkana.  The dead children are identified as nine-year-old Jordan Donette Tinsley and seven-year-old John Robert Lynn Tinsley. Their six-year-old brother, Benjamin Luke Tinsley, was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Their mother -- 30-year-old Jamie Lynn Tinsley -- was also taken to a Little Rock hospital by ambulance for treatment. Their grandparents -- Donal and Shirley Mitchell -- were treated for smoke inhalation.  The state fire marshal is helping investigate the fire for a cause.

Red Light Cameras

A new state law could take the effectiveness and part of the revenue out of red light cameras in East Texas. The city Longview just installed its red light cameras in May. On September 1st, state law will require cities to conduct annual safety studies on the cameras. The state will also lower the fines from 85-dollars to 75-dollars. At this time, Longview officials say the bill will have no bearing on Longview's red light cameras. The City of Lufkin is currently installing red light cameras at various intersections and the City of Nacogdoches plans to install the cameras later this summer.

Scam Victim

You may have seen ads in the classified section of your newspaper that start out "Earn Easy Money and Have Fun Doing It." A Center woman fell for it, but says there's nothing fun about it. Misty Knight has much more fun with her children and she doesn't want that taken away. She fell for one of those "secret shopper" ads. Then the scam began. This is how it works. First, she would check on the service provided at local stores, like Wal-Mart, but her so called bosses could care less. They would send her counterfeit checks for thousands of dollars. She ended up cashing a total of 54-thousand dollars in bad checks. She kept 64-hundred for herself and moneygrammed the majority to an unknown individual in Canada. The merchant who cashed the checks became suspicious and called police. Now Knight is in serious trouble. "I'm very embarrassed about it, but I feel it's my right as a citizen to warn other people to not be so naïve as I was. And this is definitely a learning experience for me." Knight is hoping that she won't have to pay back all the money, but the merchant who cashed the check might not like that. Knight said she needed the money to go visit her hospitalized father. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating this scam along with thousands of others like it. Local police say if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Fireworks Season

It's the start of the official fireworks season in Texas.  If you are planning to shoot off fireworks on Independence Day, we have some advice to keep you and your family safe. Every year, thousands of people end up in emergency rooms because of injuries from fireworks. Nearly, half of all people hurt in fireworks accidents are under the age of 14. Kids ages five to nine have the highest injury rate for fireworks-related injuries. Most of these accidents happen at home. Remember, it's against the law to shoot off fireworks inside the city limits. When using any kind of fireworks, be sure to follow the instructions on the label and never shoot off fireworks indoors. Finally, always keep water nearby and never let children use fireworks without direct supervision.

Local Military Support

Some East Texans who are in the military and stationed overseas are getting packages from home -- thanks to Nacogdoches firefighters. The crews have put together boxes with magazines, T-shirts and even drawings by children. The effort is meant to honor a longtime Nacogdoches firefighter who died in April. Captain Ed Ivy was 51.

Gas Prices

Gas prices across Texas have continued to fall for the fourth straight week. Gas here in East Texas is currently at an average of $2.83 per gallon for regular unleaded. That's 17-cents lower than the current national average.

Child Shot

A three year old boy is in serious condition as he recovers from a gunshot would suffered when his father grabbed a .22-caliber rifle as it slid off a tool box in the bed of a truck. The boy was accidentally struck in the stomach and leg. A Brazoria county sheriff's investigator said the child was riding in the bed of the truck when the driver accelerated, causing the rifle to slide off the toolbox. The gun went off as the child's father reached for it.