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Nash County woman rescued from submerged car

A 62-year-old Nash County woman was rescued early Tuesday from what seemed to be certain death by quick actions on the part of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and heroic actions by deputies with the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office.

Tammy Blythe left her home on Swift Creek Road about noon Monday and headed toward her destination in Kill Devil Hills. When she did not arrive on time, her family became worried and contacted the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said when his office was notified about 10 p.m. about the overdue motorist, they began trying to track down the last location of her cell phone. With the help of the Nash County 911 Communications Center and Verizon, the sheriff’s office was able to plot a general location for her cell phone.

“All we did was figure out where her phone was and notify the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office. We made a lot of calls, but the communications center and Verizon helped us a lot. The Tyrrell County sheriff’s deputies are the real heroes in this amazing story,” Medina said Thursday in an interview.

The Nash County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office late Monday night informing them of the concerns about the missing motorist and giving them the location of the phone along U.S. 64 near the Alligator River Bridge, Medina said.

According to information provided by the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Andrew Hughes, who has served about two years with the sheriff’s office, and Deputy Melissa Spence, who has served about 14 years, were alerted to the report of the overdue motorist or missing person from Nash County who possibly could have been broken down along U.S. 64. The deputies began searching the area for Blythe’s vehicle.

“They had already searched the area once and were searching for a second time when they finally spotted a break on the guardrail that separates the highway from the canal,” Sgt. Frank Mitchell of the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday in an interview. “That is a long, dark stretch of the highway. On one side, we have these canals that are 5 to 6 feet deep and always full of water. They also have snakes and turtles and other animals as well.”

The deputies took a closer look and spotted the back end of the missing vehicle protruding from the water alongside U.S. 64 between State Road 1229 and the Alligator River Bridge in Tyrrell County.

“With no concern for his own personal safety, Deputy Hughes jumped into the water to find that the driver was huddled in a small air pocket in the back window of the car. The deputies broke the back window out and rescued the driver from certain death,” the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

With the help of volunteers from the Tyrrell County Fire Department and Washington Tyrrell County EMS, Blythe was rescued and transported to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

Mitchell said the vehicle sunk beneath the water soon after Blythe was pulled from it.

Medina said Blythe appears to have made it only about two hours on the road before the incident occurred. He estimates that she spent roughly 10 hours in that situation before she was rescued shortly after midnight Tuesday morning.

Blythe reportedly is now at home in Nash County with no apparent injuries from her ordeal but with a story of an adventure she is likely never to forget. The concerns of her family and friends and the combined efforts of multiple agencies resulted in a happy ending to what could have been a tragic tale.

Fundraising ‘tiny turtle’ race to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs

On your mark, get set, go.

The second annual Teeny Tiny Turtles on the Tar will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Rocky Mount Mills. The race supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region.

Almost all 3,000 turtles have been adopted. Corporate sponsors include Cummins at Snapping Turtle level with a $5,000 donation; QVC at the Diamond Turtle level with a $2,500 contribution; and many other community sponsors that have adopted at the Yellow-Bellied Turtle level for a $1,000 contribution.

Lisa Meadows, grant management and impact specialist with the Boys & Girls Clubs, said that the ultimate goal for the race is financial, but it also is a great opportunity to “celebrate the communities served by Boys & Girls Clubs and the way in which everyone has come together to support one another during the pandemic.”

The race will begin when the adopted turtles are dropped from the Peachtree Street bridge. Once in the water, the race is on as the first three turtles to cross the finish line win cash prizes of $500 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

The Rocky Mount Fire Department’s Swiftwater Emergency Response Team will pull the turtles from the river after the race.

There is no limit to the number of people who can attend the race, but masks are required and social distancing protocols will be enforced.

Any remaining turtles can be adopted on race day for $5 each.

Mask mandate, gathering limits to be eased

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a new executive order Wednesday that loosens the mask mandate but does not erase it entirely.

Under the new order, masks still will be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks still are strongly recommended outdoors by the state Department of Health and Human Services in crowded areas and higher-risk settings where social distancing is difficult.

The executive order will take effect today and is set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1, Cooper said.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” Cooper said. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”

The executive order also will increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

“Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone. They are free and widely available across the state. In many places you don’t need an appointment,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “For those who have questions, I encourage you to go to YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov to learn about the benefits of the vaccines, potential temporary reactions you might experience and answers to common questions.”

Cases of COVID continue to rise in the Twin Counties.

Nash County Health Director Bill Hill said Thursday that 73 new cases of COVID have been reported since Monday, bringing the total cumulative number of cases to 10,945.

As of Thursday, 181 Nash County COVID-related deaths have been reported.

Local hospitalizations are dropping. As of Thursday, 17 patients were hospitalized at Nash UNC Health Care for COVID-related symptoms.

An additional 23 new cases of COVID were reported since Monday in Edgecombe County, bringing the cumulative total of cases in that county to 5,442. At last report two weeks ago, 113 Edgecombe County residents have lost their lives to COVID.

In Nash County, 30.6 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Roughly 24.5 percent of Nash County residents have been fully vaccinated.

In Edgecombe County, 25.9 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. About 20.9 percent of Edgecombe County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID.

It should be noted that these numbers represent percentages of the total population of each county. State numbers reflect the percentage of adults only.

Statewide, as of Thursday, 49 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated, and 40 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated.

Cooper has stated that he wants to see roughly 67 percent — or two-thirds — of adults in the state at least partially vaccinated before he considers lifting the indoor mask mandate.

Suspect in church break-ins charged with series of storage unit thefts

A Rocky Mount man arrested and charged last week with a series of burglaries at Mildred Missionary Baptist Church has been linked to another series of thefts from area storage facilities.

Delton Nmn Tyler, 62, of the 2100 block of Kingsboro Road has been charged by Tarboro police with 69 felony counts as a result of that investigation.

Tarboro police responded to various reports of thefts from storage facilities between March 6 and April 14, according to a news release from the department.

A potential suspect was identified and while investigators were working to build a case against him, the agency received an early morning report of a theft in progress.

Sgt. Brian Morgan was near the area and responded. Upon arriving at the scene he saw a man, later identified as Tyler, loading a television into a vehicle. Tyler was arrested and charged with that incident.

Members of the police department’s Investigations Division continued to investigate the other cases and ultimately linked Tyler to those crimes as well as several other crimes that had been reported at other locations.

During the investigation, Tarboro police worked with Edgecombe County deputies and jointly conducted numerous search warrants in an effort to recover stolen property.

Roughly 100 stolen items were recovered, ranging from small hand tools to four-wheelers and multiple firearms. The majority of the items have been returned to their owners.

As a result of the Tarboro police portion of the investigation, Tyler was charged with 47 counts of felony breaking and entering, 19 counts of felony larceny and three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Tyler was jailed under a $150,000 bond in the Edgecombe County Detention Center.

Tyler has spent more than 24 years of his life locked behind bars.

Tarboro police cited their partnership with the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office in solving these crimes and said anyone missing property from Lancaster’s U-Store-It is encouraged to contact the police department’s Investigations Division at 252-641-4272 or 252-641-4201.