By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
First-responders in Knox County are asking residents to show support and honor the memory of Herman “Lee” Dobbs on Thursday, when the funeral procession bearing his body passes through U.S. 25E on its way to northeast Tennessee.
The procession will leave Hawk Creek Church on Route 80 West in London following Dobbs’ funeral Thursday at 10 a.m. From Route 80 West, it will go down I-75 and take Exit 29 onto U.S. 25E and go south.
It is expected to arrive in Knox County around 12:15-12:30 p.m. depending on the time the funeral ends.
Once the procession leaves Kentucky, Dobbs’ remains will be taken to Church Hill, Tenn. (near Kingsport) where he and his wife are originally from. A separate funeral service and his burial will be held there at a later date.
Dobbs, 40, of London, was a flight paramedic. He was killed last Thursday night when the Air Evac Lifeteam air medical helicopter he was on board crashed in the parking lot at Paces Creek Elementary School, just off U.S. 421 in Manchester.
Air Evac 109 was preparing to land at their base helipad across the road from the school when the accident occurred just after 11 p.m. The helicopter was en route back to their base after transporting a patient to Saint Joseph London hospital.
The pilot, Eddy Sizemore, 61, of London, and flight nurse Jesse Jones, 28, of Pineville, also perished in the crash.
Knox County EMS deputy chief Gerald Baker was a close friend of Dobbs, who had worked with the organization’s paramedics. He said Monday that the public lining up along Route 25E would be a show of solidarity to those who remembered and loved Dobbs.
“We’re honoring him and his service to the community Thursday, and especially honoring his wife and family during their time of need. We hope the Knox County community will show their support as well. It would really mean a lot to his family. Flags and signs of support are encouraged and welcomed along the route,” Baker said.
He noted Monday the loss of Dobbs was devastating to those who work as emergency, fire and law enforcement personnel in the region.
“He had been with us for about 16-18 months, and was a mentor to many of our employees, especially with those who took the paramedic classes. He was all about teaching them beyond the classroom and using hands-on experience. His death is the first in the line of duty that we’ve had to endure as an EMS service. It’s a tough moment here for us,” Baker commented.
House-Rawlings Funeral Home in London is in charge of arrangements for Dobbs’ funeral Thursday morning. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting friends, family and community members to make donations to a Children’s Scholarship Fund.
There was other news related to the crash Monday.
It may be a year before the investigation is complete on what caused the helicopter to go down in Clay County last week. That’s according to Shawn Etcher, who is investigating the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board.
In an email Monday, he said the on-scene portion of the investigation was completed and the helicopter was taken to a secure facility in Georgia, where the NTSB investigation team will examine it in greater detail.
“Right now we do not speculate on what caused the crash. Later in the investigation we will analyze all of the facts as to what may have happened,” Etcher pointed out.
To honor a former colleague and fallen comrade, the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office in London will be closing this afternoon.
The office will close today at noon, and stay closed for the remainder of the day to allow their staff to attend the funeral of former Chief Deputy Eddy Sizemore.
Sizemore’s funeral will take place today at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of London, with burial to follow at Locust Grove Cemetery in the Laurel County community of Keavy. London Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Sizemore was the pilot with the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter that crashed.
He left the sheriff’s office earlier this year to take the pilot’s job with Air Evac. Sizemore served with the sheriff’s office as chief deputy for over two years.
In a news release Monday, Sheriff John Root thanked the public for their “patience and understanding during this time of honor and respect being shown to Eddy Sizemore and his family.”
The Laurel Sheriff’s Office will reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday and will resume their regular business hours.
Flight Nurse Jesse Lee Jones’ funeral will be held tonight at 8 p.m. at Creech Funeral Home Chapel in Pineville. Graveside services will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Maiden Cemetery on Upper Laurel Fork in the Bell County community of Frakes. Creech Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
And a memorial service for Jones, Dobbs and Sizemore is being planned by the company they worked for. Air Evac spokesperson Julie Heavrin said Monday the company is working on remembering the three who died in the crash.
“We will do a memorial service for all of our family. And we’ll announce the date and time,” Heavrin said.