Barry Kent's Blog

Today in Country Music, August 30, featuring Dottie West

Posted By: Barry Kent · 8/30/2012 5:36:00 AM

Today in country music, August 30.

On this day in 2011, Brad Paisley's duet With Carrie Underwood, "Remind Me," was in the top spot on both the Billboard and Country Aircheck country airplay charts.

Today in 2006, Brad Paisley and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles announced nominations for the CMA awards… top nominees included Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney.

The city Of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, declared it "Alabama Day" in honor of the supergroup who were playing there as part of their "Farewell Tour" in 2003.

And on this day in 1991, Dottie West was killed in an automobile accident on her way to play the grand ole opry.

On August 30, 1991, West was scheduled to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Shortly after leaving her apartment at Nashville's Wessex Towers, West's car, a Chrysler New Yorker that Kenny Rogers had given her following the loss of her possessions at the IRS auction, stalled in front of the old Belle Meade theater on Harding Road. West's 81-year-old neighbor, George Thackston, spotted her on the side of the road and offered to drive her to the Opry for her scheduled appearance. Frantic about getting to the Opry on time, she had urged the man to speed.

He lost control of his vehicle while exiting at the Opryland exit on Briley Parkway at a speed of 55 miles per hour. The exit ramp was posted for 25 miles per hour. The car left the ramp, vaulted in the air and hit the central division. West did not believe she was injured as badly as her neighbor had been and, reportedly didn't seem harmed by officers who responded to the scene. She insisted he be treated first. West, though she thought she was unharmed, suffered severe internal injuries and proved to have suffered both a ruptured spleen and a lacerated liver. Her spleen was removed that Friday and, the following Monday, she underwent two more surgeries to stop her liver from bleeding; these ultimately failed in that effort. Doctors said that West knew the extent of her injuries and even visited with Kenny Rogers shortly before her last operation. On September 4, 1991, during her third operation, West died on the operating table at 9:43 a.m., aged 58.

Her funeral was held at Christ Church on Old Hickory Boulevard. There were 600 friends and family attendees, including Emmylou Harris, Connie Smith, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash and Larry Gatlin. Her friend and fellow artist, Steve Wariner, whom she had helped make it to Nashville as a young man, sang "Amazing Grace". A couple of weeks later, President George H.W. Bush, a longtime fan for whom she had performed at the White House, expressed his condolences at the CMA Awards. Her hometown of McMinnville, Tennessee dedicated Highway 56 to her memory, naming it the Dottie West Memorial Highway.

George Thackston pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless endangerment arising out of the fatal accident. On March 26, 1992, a judge sentenced him to 11 months and 29 days of probation, and also ordered him to complete an alcohol treatment program. A blood alcohol test performed after the crash found that Thackston had a blood alcohol level of .08, which was not enough for him to be deemed intoxicated under Tennessee law.

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