The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

December 28, 2011

Top Local News Stories of 2011: Tornadoes, immigration, snow

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7. Huntsville second largest metro area in state

Census data released in March showed the Huntsville metropolitan area, made up of Madison and Limestone counties, is now the state’s second largest. The metro area has 417,593 residents. Limestone Countians make up 82,782 of that. The Mobile metro area, which was previously in second place, has 412,992 people. Jefferson County’s metro area remains the largest with a population of 1.12 million.

8. State trooper indicted in fatal wreck

An Alabama state trooper was indicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in November in connection with a wreck that killed an Athens couple in April. Trooper James Heath Moss, 30, of Athens was heading to another accident to provide traffic control on the morning of April 25 when he rear-ended the Mitsubishi Mirage in which Jamie Lee Gossett, 31, and his wife, Sarah Rene Gossett, 38, were riding. Their vehicle was pushed into a field and caught fire. The couple had been on their way to Tanner High School to pick up their daughters when the accident occurred. Moss was driving at speeds of up to 120 mph in the seconds before the crash, based on information from the car’s information module, said attorney Derek Simpson of the Huntsville law firm Warren & Simpson, who has filed a civil suit on behalf of the administrator of the Jamie Gossett estate. Moss, who was released on bond, is not involved in trooper highway duties but continues to work in the office of the state trooper post in Decatur. Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to a year in the county jail.

9. Runaway trucker leads officers on chase

A trucker led at least two-dozen law-enforcement vehicles on a three-county chase Oct. 28 before his truck tires, which were blown out by spike strips, caused him to wreck his 18-wheeler at the Alabama state line. Anton V. Barvinok, Ukrainian-American citizen living in Loves Park, Ill., was arrested in Limestone County after he led law-enforcement officers from Alabama and Tennessee on a chase on Interstate 65 about 11:30 a.m. The chase began after he refused to stop for a state trooper in Cullman, who was responding to reports that a trucker was driving erratically.  Officers surrounded the runaway driver as he continued, unabated, along the interstate. Three time officers laid down spike strips to flatten the truck’s tires. Barvinok drove until his tires disintegrated and some of his rims became square. After crashing into a guardrail near the Alabama-Tennessee state line about 12:15 p.m., officers had to use a Taser to make him comply with arrest procedures, and they found a rifle in the cab of his truck. Barvinok was calm and polite but delusional at the scene, making incongruous statements about why he would not stop for officers. He said he did not pull over because “I’m in a battle with good and evil and I won” and because “he was trying to save us from hell.”

Although he said he was hauling “people to go to the sky,” a trooper at the scene said the 40-foot container Barvinok was pulling was empty. Barvinok was charged with reckless endangerment, attempting to elude resisting arrest and carrying a pistol without a permit. He was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

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