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The Gene Hobbs Tragedy: a dump truck full of red flags

Chad Hobbs:

Messenger Staff

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 In Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch famously explains to Scout, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

 This story may appear drawn out to some readers, but it pails in comparison to the slow, painful manner in which facts regarding the death and investigation of Gene Hobbs have been drawn out over three years for his wife, Lisa, and her family. Until a person takes the time to “climb in her skin and walk around,” it is easy to write her off as a grieving widow with an axe to grind. When a person takes the time to truly hear her story, however, one will find that isn’t the case at all, and the stacks of documents and notes she has collected over the past several years support every word she says.

 “There for so long I couldn’t even talk about it, so I just held it all in for probably a year or so,” she somberly explains. “People need to know. I don’t want this to ever happen to anyone else.”

 When the police and deputy coroner came to her house on Dec. 13, 2016, she says, “They really couldn’t tell me anything, other than there was an accident, and he was backed over by a dump truck.”

 Lisa describes those first few days as, “complete confusion, lost, didn’t know what I was supposed to do.”

 For the two months that passed until Occupational Safety and Health investigator Anthony Morley’s official report was released, she would painfully endure a lack of answers for why and how her husband had died, time and time again.

 “It was so frustrating. I mean, no one has any idea how frustrating it is not to be able to have some kind of answers,” she recalled.

 One thing that did get released immediately was the rumor that Gene had a heart attack which caused him to be backed over. Lisa’s brother called, notifying her that a member of the community was at the gas station telling people that was what happened to her husband.  

 She confronted the gentleman, wanting to know why he was spreading the rumor that a heart attack had caused Gene’s death. He divulged that is what Judge/Executive Gerry Lynn had told him. She inquired how the Judge could be saying that when the autopsy report still had not been released.

 The man confessed, “Well he probably shouldn’t have said that. But that’s what the Judge is telling people.”

 When the official autopsy was finally released, it reported no signs of Gene having a heart attack. This will not be the last time that report fully disputes the testimony of the County’s version of what happened that day.

 Red flags had started popping up the day after Gene lost his life. A call had been made to the Meade County Courthouse requesting his personal effects. Lisa says that afternoon, Judge Lynn came to her house to drop off some of Gene’s belongings. She says he let the family know he was sorry for their loss. Lisa informed him that OSHA had been trying to get ahold of her, but he declared to her, “You don’t need to talk them.” Confused, she replied, “I don’t?”

 Lisa says he didn’t really elaborate why; he just said she didn’t need to talk to them. Her sister, Elaine, who was there at the time, says what he said instantly red flagged with the family.