Family mourns three
By By Janet Little Cooper
A Walnut Hill, Fla., family is in a state of shock following the deaths of three family members in one week.
Joe Lewis Thames and his wife Diane were preparing to lay Diane's mother, Zelma Louise Moorer to rest Saturday when they learned of the death of Joe's sister, Annie Knott, who lives in Cantonment.
"She was getting dressed to attend my mother's funeral here in Walnut Hill when she collapsed with a massive heart attack," Diane Thames said. "She was coming here to be with me at my mother's funeral. We found out about it right before we left to bury my mother."
Then in the early morning hours Sunday, the family received yet another devastating phone call telling them that one of their nieces died in a car accident.
Kimberly Rochelle Spencer, 27 of Walnut Hill, Fla., was one of two daughters that Joe's sister Emma Lou Brown had.
The Thames niece was returning from visiting her sister, Shnelius in Pensacola, Fla., when the accident occurred on Hwy. 97 in Walnut Hill, Fla.
According to Florida Highway Patrol reports, Spencer was traveling north on state road 97 in a 2000 Cadillac at a high rate of speed when she left the roadway for an unknown reason and started to travel on the northbound shoulder.
The car than became sideways, overturning and ejecting both Spencer and her passenger, Derek Moorer, 29 of Walnut Hill, Fla.
Neither occupant was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. EMS crews pronounced Spencer dead at the scene and Moorer was air lifted to West Florida Hospital where he remains in ICU.
Moorer, a 1995 graduate of Ernest Ward High School, is improving daily since the accident.
"He had one collapsed lung and the other one was badly bruised," Moorer's mother Shirley Moorer said. "He is still in ICU, but he is breathing on his own now. They have not taken the tubes out of his lungs quite yet, but the doctors say that his lungs are healing very well."
Moorer also sustained fractures in both shoulders and one fractured rib but is stable and alert moving his arms and legs according to his mother.
"We are just so thankful to everyone," Moorer said. "He is coming along really well and we are so thankful for everything the doctor's and hospital are doing to help him."
The Thames family is also thankful for Moorer's improvements; he is also their nephew. While the family continues to pray and rejoice for any signs of improvement with Moorer, they are also struggling to find peace and comfort as they prepare for a double funeral this Saturday to bury their sister and her niece.
Funeral services are planned for Saturday at 11 a. m. in Pensacola, Fla., at Gospel Temple Holiness Church #1. Burial will follow in Walnut Hill, Fla., at New St. Paul's Cemetery where the family buried their first loss one week ago.
Spencer was a student at Pensacola Junior College pursuing a career as a physical therapist according to her friend Patrice Fountain.
"Kim had done some volunteer work at West Florida Hospital and at the county health clinic in Pensacola drawing patients blood, when she decided that she would rather pursue physical therapy instead," Fountain said. "I still just can't believe that she is gone. We have been best friends since birth and she was just such a lively outgoing person who cared about people and her children."
Fountain spoke with Spencer Saturday morning for the last time and said that she was upset over her aunt's death that had just occurred.
"When I talked to her that morning she was so sad about her aunt," Fountain said. "She loved her aunt so much and it just really depressed her. I know that her day had a bad start with the news of her aunt, but I am still just so shocked over her death. Every time we rode together, we always had our seatbelts on. I just can't imagine her missing her seatbelt. That was something she always did."
Spencer has two children Oneshia, 8 and Travis Butler, Jr., 2. See today's page on 5a for the obituaries.