Tragedy at GCSU

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 by Rachel

I feel horrible and broken about this today, while I’m simultaneously grateful that none of my students were in this car.


From the GCSU student newspaper, The Colonnade:


Four students involved in car accident, two fatalities


Four students were involved in an automobile accident on North Columbia Street in the early morning hours of Sept. 22, according to the Milledgeville Police Department. Two freshmen, Johnny Harof and Alex Delor, were killed.


Freshman Christian Smith was driving a 2004 Mini Cooper on North Columbia Street at the intersection of the railroad tracks near the Goodie Gallery, according to Milledgeville Chief of Police Woodrow Blue.


Smith and Tyler Zecker, who was sitting in the passenger seat, sustained injuries and were taken to Oconee Regional Medical Center and later transported to the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, explained Blue.


“At this time we know they were heading south on North Columbia Street. When the driver crossed over the railroad tracks, he lost control of the vehicle, it went airborne, flipped over a couple of times and ended up striking a tree,” Blue said.


The first responders were on the scene at 12:58 a.m., Blue said.


According to John Gonzalez at the Baldwin County Coroner’s Office, Harof and Delor were pronounced dead at 1:45 a.m. The cause of death was blunt head trauma.


“I hate it,” said Gonzales. “It’s real sad to see young kids. They need to slow down.”


Interim President Stas Preczewski issued a statement to the student body and college community. In the statement he offered “most heart-felt condolences to the family members, friends and associates of our deceased students.” He also said that counselors would be available to “assist any university person or group who wishes assistance.”


SGA President Evan Karanovich expressed the need for unity in this time of tragedy.


“The untimely deaths of Alex and Johnny, our friends and classmates, are difficult,” Karanovich said. “By coming together as family, we can comfort and restore through these difficult times. These two students began their college careers here just a short time ago, but they made a mark as soon as they became part of our George College family.”


“The accident is still under investigation. It will be a couple of days until we complete it,” Blue said.


It is normal for instances of fatality to be under investigation for a period of time, according to Blue.


All four students went to Collins Hill High School in Lawrenceville, Ga. Their families have been notified.


The police report and comments from first responders who were at the scene are still pending.


By Aubrie Sofala and Bobbi Otis

Personal Effects & Uncle Update (Or Lack Thereof)

Friday, December 17th, 2010 by Rachel

Nobody ever can explain to you what it’s like to lose a loved one. It’s unimaginable how something unexpected can ripple throughout your life. I’m not as much of a reader as I used to be, so I haven’t sought out books on grief, but I’ve watched my share of movies and TV. Hell, I’ve watched eleven seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit this semester. I thought that Pfeiffer’s character, Linda, in the movie Personal Effects really got it right when she said, “I’ve never even been to court before all this happened. It’s like a foreign country in there, the words they use and how things happen, it’s just… It’s like I got on a wrong plane and got off at some fucked up country I’m not supposed to be in.”


This movie hit closer to home than anything else I’ve come across. When I saw the movie poster on Netflix, I remembered the plot vaguely and thought “Oh yea, this seemed like a more serious I Could Never Be Your Woman.” This takes the concept of an unconventional relationship (not quite Harold & Maude) and puts it in the midst of tragedy. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher play characters who meet in a “murder grief counseling” group. Not only do they eventually develop a romantic relationship, but Kutcher’s character works to help her deaf, bitter son deal with his father’s death. Even in darkness, there is some comic relief provided by Kutcher’s character who has taken the job of a chicken outside a restaurant. Pfeiffer identifies him as the sad chicken, which becomes a metaphor for his whole existence.


I would recommend this movie to anyone, whether you’ve experienced a recent loss or not. I thought the film was surprisingly well made, considering I haven’t really heard anything about it. I had no complaints about anyones’ performance. Pfeiffer’s always wonderful. I thought that this was Kutcher’s best role since The Butterfly Effect. Kathy Bates succeeds in a small part as Kutcher’s mother, focused on helping organized a charity rummage sale.


What really rang true to me in this film were moments like when the grief counselor says something about family of the deceased finding a crutch in the legal system, but the legal system can rarely ever succeed in providing the answers or solutions. For us, we have NO answers. I’ve been really depressed for the last few weeks. My emails to the media have fallen on deaf ears/eyes probably because the law enforcement is providing them with information that contradicts what the district attorney says.


It has been a year and one month since my uncle, Thomas A. Rice Jr., was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. His cause of death is listed as unknown on his death certificate. Nobody cares what happened to him. A complete investigation was never conducted by either local law enforcement or the ABI, which was brought in to investigate but subsequently denied being brought in. Sheriff Grover Smith of Atmore, AL hasn’t responded to my mom’s emails in nine months. Our world is corrupt and cruel.


But you know what? This movie made me feel a little bit better about it all. And I think that’s pretty awesome. Watch it.

My Uncle’s Death Has Not Been Ruled a Suicide

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 by Rachel

Why don’t newspapers cover all their bases before printing stuff? Here’s the most concise article I’ve found.



McDavid Woman Indicted On Child Sex Charges After Husband’s Death


November 29, 2010


A McDavid woman has been indicted on child sex charges after authorities found evidence against her as they investigated the apparent suicide of her husband.


Karen D. Rice, 42, of West Bogia Road, was indicted by an Escambia County (Ala.) grand jury on two counts of sexual abuse on a boy under the age of 12 and one count of first degree sodomy.


The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office located the unnamed evidence against Rice while investigating the death of her husband, Atmore dentist Dr. Thomas Rice, late last year. She was released from the Escambia County (Ala.) Detention Center on $300,000 bond.


Dr. Thomas Alvin Rice, Jr., 54, was found dead from a gunshot wound at his Nokomis home on November 21, 2009. Authorities said the death was an apparent suicide and unrelated to any alleged marital problems between the couple.

A Wednesday poem/post for you!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Rachel

The Emperor of Ice-Cream


by Wallace Stevens


Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Top 5 Animal and Car moments

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Rachel

This semester, in my Composition through Literature course, I had a whole day dedicated to “roadkill poems”. “Traveling through the Dark” by William Stafford has always been one of those poems I read early on in my writing career that made me go “Wow!” This themed class really got me started thinking about animals and cars. (Gosh I would love to put together a dead animal poem anthology!…but that’s for another time!) Are they inherently linked? If these keep showing up in literature, they’ve got to be in film too. And the more I thought about it, I realized they are.


So here are my top five favorite animal and car moments in movies, posted by my alterego Ray Wray Kowalcyzk over at



Finishing my first year of MFA

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by Rachel

For all intents and purposes, I’ve finished my first year of my MFA work here at Georgia College. I still need to officially post student grades, but grading is done! This has been one of my easiest semesters to wrap up, primarily because students turned in their big research papers on April 19th instead of during the last week of school or today during their final the way I’ve required in the past. I think I might try to reconfigure the fall semester so it works the same way. Anything that I can do to make my life a little bit easier is a syllabus adjustment worth making.


Can you believe it? I’m HALF WAY THROUGH MY MFA!!! It’s pretty crazy saying that outloud.


Read the rest of this entry »

RIP J.D. Salinger 1919-2010

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 by Rachel

Holden Caulfield was probably the first boy I fell in love with. So thanks for that.

Brittany Murphy dies at 32

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by Rachel

clueless Sad news. I always liked her, though I thought she got too skinny in recent years. She was always prettiest to me like this.


ABI joins Rice death investigation

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Rachel

ABI now involved with Rice investigation


By Adam Prestridge
Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 8:43 AM CST
The investigation into the death of Atmore dentist Thomas Alvin Rice Jr. took a turn Monday as agents with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation joined forces with county investigators.


Sheriff Grover Smith said he decided to call the ABI in for assistance after members of Rice’s family were troubled by the case.


“The family was concerned that we were rushing to judgment, so they called me and they had already contacted the district attorney,” Smith said. “I told them that I was going to get the ABI to assist in the investigation.”


An agent with the ABI was sent to Escambia County Monday morning to go over the case with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office after Smith contacted them last week.


Read the rest of this entry »

Uncle TJ

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 by Rachel

Last night, I missed a phone call from Alabama… the voicemail was hard to understand, but I knew that a tragedy had happened in my family and that they needed to get in touch with my family. We called and got ahold of Mom and Dad. My Uncle TJ is dead. I don’t know why I was the first person who was called or contacted about this. Maybe he had the address book open to my name.. I don’t know. But it’s a tough weekend. Here’s as much as is available on it right now.


Atmore Dentist Found Dead From Gunshot Wound


November 22, 2009


The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of Atmore dentist who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home Saturday.


Dr. Thomas Alvin Rice, Jr., 54, was discovered dead at his residence on Highway 31 in Nokomis late Saturday afternoon. Rice died from a gunshot wound, according to Escambia County (Ala.) Chief Deputy Mike Lambert. Officials are not currently saying if foul play is suspected in Rice’s death; they are awaiting autopsy results from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Mobile.


His death is still under investigation by the Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department


Dr. Rice was a 1982 graduate of the University of Alabama. He has held an active dental license in Alabama since June of 1982, and has practiced dentistry at 111 East Ridgely Street in Atmore for a number of years.