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Crash victims' family donates equipment

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By April Wright, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — It's about taking it one day at a time, said an emotional Terry Marcum, who, more than a year ago lost her mom, sister and brother-in-law in a collision on Interstate 77 near the Fancy Gap exit.

“Our mom raised me and my siblings to not quit and to keep going,” Marcum said. “We're able to make it through with the love and support of churches and family, and everybody has been good to us.”

In March 2008, the collision instantly killed Isa Edison Dollyhigh, 45, an opera singer who lived in Greensboro, N.C., as well as her mother Coleen Huffman Dollyhigh, 75, of Surry County, N.C., and Jorge Alberto Guerra, 45, Isa Dollyhigh's husband.

The Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department assisted at the scene and continues to receive thanks from the Dollyhigh family — Marcum's sisters Kathy Dollyhigh, of Greensboro, and Dena Dollyhigh and brother Danny Dollyhigh, both of Mount Airy, N.C.

“We knew how much the fire department had done for our family and what they continue to do for others,” Marcum said.

In memory of their loved ones, the family gave a generous donation to the Hillsville Fire Department to buy new equipment.

The department used the donation as part of a cash-match required to get an $8,000 grant from the Virginia Medical Service to buy four state-of-the-art rescue jacks and stabilizers and two defibrillators.

Even though the lives were lost, the victims would have liked that other lives are being saved, because that's the kind of generous and kind people they were, said Danny Dollyhigh.

During an informal ceremony Tuesday in memory of the Dollyhigh family and to thank Danny, Terry, Dena and Kathy for their donation, the Hillsville department put the rescue equipment in action. Members practiced with it and showed how it would stabilize a vehicle during an accident.

“For them to put this equipment in memory of the Dollyhigh family is just an incredible gesture. These folks have been incredible up here,” Danny Dollyhigh said of the family’s decision to donate to the fire department.

“We're blessed by the monetary contribution,” said Fire Chief Mike Musser. “We wanted to hold this ceremony to show our appreciation. We give thanks for them becoming a part of our lives.”

The fire department previously used cribbing, or small blocks of wood wedged between a car and ground to stabilize a vehicle, which would take almost seven minutes. Musser said the new equipment would allow a car to be stabilized almost five minutes faster.

Gary Edward Hicinbothem, 47, of Pilot Mountain, N.C., was convicted of three reckless driving charges for the head-on collision that killed the Dollyhigh family.

Hicinbothem was driving a 2002 Chevy Silverado in the southbound lanes that crossed the median and struck a northbound Toyota RAV4 head-on.

Hicinbothem was sentenced to six months to serve consecutively for each reckless driving count, for a total of 18 months at the New River Valley Regional Jail.