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Wreck claims life of Atmore woman, 87

Firefighters had to remove the door of the PT Cruiser


News Staff Writer

For Emma Joan (pronounced “Joann”) Fillingim, helping other people had become a habit over the past several years. That habit was a factor in the 87-year-old Atmore resident’s death last week.
Mrs. Fillingim, a resident of Point Escambia, was apparently killed instantly Thursday, August 15, when she pulled her PT Cruiser from Wilson Avenue onto West Nashville (U.S. 31) and into the path of a Chrysler Pacifica as she was taking a neighbor to a local pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
According to police, the two vehicles met almost head-on around 6:30 p.m. The 28-year-old Bay Minette resident driving the Pacifica, whose name was not listed on police reports, reportedly tried to avoid the impact but was unable to do so.
The heavier Chrysler slammed into the lighter one, with almost all the damage to the PT Cruiser occurring on the driver’s side. Atmore firefighters had to use extraction tools to remove the crumpled door of Mrs. Fillingim’s vehicle and provide medical personnel with access. The Pacifica sustained moderate damage to its left front.
Police Chief Chuck Brooks said the evidence at the scene was clearly indicative of what happened.
“She just pulled into the path of the other car, and they hit pretty much head-on,” he said. “Nobody in either car was ejected.”
Two Alabama State Troopers were called to the scene to help with the investigation and reconstruction of the crash.
“That’s a matter of protocol,” Brooks said. “When we have a fatality inside the city limits, we notify them because they have so much expertise and experience with this type of investigation.”
The neighbor for whom Mrs. Fillingim was doing the favor, a 62-year-old female Point Escambia resident whose name was also missing from police reports, was taken by ambulance to North Baldwin Infirmary, as was the driver of the Pacifica.
The extent of their injuries and the updated condition of each were not available by Tuesday’s press deadline.
Brooks said he had seen no evidence that a medical emergency might have arisen and caused Mrs. Fillingim to pull into the other car’s path, although he couldn’t completely discount the possibility.
“I’ve seen nothing to indicate that,” he said. “But we’ve submitted evidence to the crime lab to be processed and analyzed. When we’ll get the results back, I don’t know.”
The Atmore woman, a native of Illinois, and her husband, Lamar Fillingim, had resided at Point Escambia for several years. She is the mother of Karen “Kitty” Day, a legal secretary with attorney Shirley Darby of the Otts Moore law firm, and Walter Lamar Fillingim of New Braunfels, Texas.
Mrs. Fillingim will be buried in Bayview Memorial Park Cemetery in Pensacola, Wednesday, August 21.
A complete obituary is included in this edition.