Thomasville Times Enterprise

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February 4, 2007

Headed home, local airman dies in crash

THOMASVILLE — Fresh off a great accomplishment, Airman 1st Class Michael McDowell of Thomasville headed home to share his joy with his family and friends. Tragically, his journey to meet them and his promising future in the Air Force ended on a slick interstate 700 miles away.

McDowell, a 2006 Thomas County Central High School graduate, died Thursday in a three-vehicle accident on I-20 near Kilgore, Texas. According to Trooper Brandon Smith of the Texas Department of Safety, McDowell, 19, lost control of his red Ford Ranger and crossed over the median into a westbound lane of traffic. McDowell’s hydroplaning vehicle then struck a green Chevrolet truck driven by 24-year-old Trevor Riggs, a Longview resident who was also killed.

A white Chevrolet Trailblazer traveling westbound slammed into McDowell and Riggs’ trucks, but its three occupants escaped injury.

McDowell, destined for a career in mechanics, had just completed the 361st Training Squadron’s Aerospace Propulsion course at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. His next station was to be Tyndal Air Force Base, Fla.

“He was proud to be serving his country,” said Madeline McDowell, McDowell’s stepmother.

McDowell, who last visited Thomasville during the Christmas holidays, figured he would be deployed to Iraq before too long.

“That was up in the air. There was that possibility,” Madeline McDowell said.

McDowell, known throughout his squadron for his energy, positive attitude and work ethic, had no qualms about his service, she added. He finished his 65-day training course with an average grade of 96 percent.

“Once he decided that’s what he wanted to do, it was all he thought of,” she said.

In addition to his stepmother, McDowell is survived his father, Dewayne McDowell, his mother, Carlene Williams, his stepfather, Wes Williams, plus a sister and two brothers.

“He talked to his father right before the accident,” Madeline McDowell said. “We’re proud as parents that he took so much pride in wanting to defend our country, along with the rest of the young people who put their lives in the same situation. Our hearts go out to other parents who have lost a son or daughter.”

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming. It will be handled by Allen and Allen Funeral Home.

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