April 2008

Weekly Winner
Oologah Lake Leader

Questions swirl around trooper crash
by John M. Wylie II

A controversial crash in which a highway patrol cruiser slammed into a pickup truck left the citizens of Oologah asking many questions. Troop Z, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s elite accident reconstruction unit, is trying to unravel a situation where trooper Scott Shropshire was using his emergency lights and siren to respond at high speeds to an incident that was apparently under control. Wylie investigates a controversial story by reviewing radio logs and personally interviewing witnesses to find out if the crash could have been avoided. Two factors give the story a dramatic twist, as information reveals that Shropshire was suspended without pay for 10 working days prior to the accident, without a reason given. Also, there is a possibility the individual driving the other vehicle in the crash was intoxicated and may have switched roles with the passenger. Wylie digs to reveal more as the investigation moves forward, by writing a column and allowing readers to speak out on the subject of state troopers’ driving habits.

Daily Winner
Muskogee Phoenix
Community gripped by fear after shooting
by Donna Hales

“When Becky Martin’s family sits down to eat, a gun is on the table,” writes Donna Hales in a story tragic from the beginning. The small town of Iron Post is coping with the brutal murder of two local community members. Jack and Elaine Denney were found slain execution style in their home on Christmas morning. The security of the town is at the mercy of a anonymous murderer, while the authorities have no suspects in the case that has forever changed the lives of this community located between Peggs and Locust Grove. As the neighborhood mourns the loss of the Denneys, they also say this tragedy has “shaken our world” and are frightened to go outside, to let their children stray too far, or to trust anyone needing a ride or needing to use the phone. Hales’ ability to capture the mood of a town trying to overcome loss of friends, but all the while staying vigilant of new and old faces, is colorful and haunting.