Austin Burtnett, a Trinity Valley Student, just completed the final phase of restoration on his 1986 GMC Sierra truck two weeks ago, and had reason to be proud.
It wasn't your routine grease-monkey garage job. Austin, 19, had painstakingly rebuilt it in honor of his hot rod-loving father, Foley Burtnett of Springtown, who helped him get the truck on his 16th birthday several years ago, and died in June 2011 from stomach cancer.
But the pickup, a sparkling black 1986 GMC Sierra 1500 with a fresh muffler job, was stolen from the dorm parking lot at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens in East Texas, where Austin is on a football scholarship, shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 12.
The thief left a stolen vehicle from Palestine in its place, and might not have made a clean getaway if Austin - a 6-foot 3-inch, 300-pound lineman - hadn't been admitted to a hospital the previous day. He was injured a few weeks ago at football practice and developed a serious staph infection requiring medical attention.
"He called me in tears on Friday," said his mother, Kyle Spaulding of Keller. "I'm just heartbroken for him. He's just had tragedy left and right."
Spaulding said Austin and his twin sister, Kendall Burtnett, who plays for the UT-Tyler girls soccer team, have been struck by their father's absence at such events as graduation, his birthday, their birthdays, Father's Day in the past year.
"Austin spent the money his father left him to rebuild that truck in honor of his dad, and in memory of their time together," Spaulding said.
Police at Trinity Valley say they have video of the car thief stealing Austin's pickup and leaving the other vehicle behind.
They're asking for the public's help in finding the '86 GMC Sierra - Texas license plate No. 62W WL5 - and the criminal who stole it.
Anyone who has seen it or has information about the case should contact TVCC Police Chief Heath Carike at 903- 675-6235, or Spaulding at 817-980-7582.
This story was reprinted from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
- Local News
Athens tables large purchase
The Athens City Council Monday tabled awarding a bid for a large piece of equipment that removes asphalt from the surface of paved roads to make way for repairs.
City Director of Utilities Glen Herriage recommended that the council award the bid to RDO Equipment Co. of Irving for a Road Hog cold planer. The RDO bid was for $123,267.06, which is below the budgeted amount of $134,000.
Former TVCC basketball coach Joe Curl passes
Joe Curl, the former head coach of the Lady Cardinal basketball program, passed away at the age of 59 on Monday.
Review earns six awards
The Athens Daily Review was honored with six awards for journalism excellence during the North and East Texas Press Association yearly convention held Thursday-Saturday in Tyler.
Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs, 94, died Friday
Long time Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs passed away on Friday, April 11. She was born in Van Zandt County on Jan. 18, 1920. She was 94-years-old.
Here comes the champs!
Friday was a big night for the Eustace FFA at the Henderson County Livestock Show and for Jordyn Costlow, who presented the Grand Champion.
Saturday was payday at HCLS
Payday came Saturday for the youth who placed in the 54th annual Henderson County Livestock Show.
Popular trend leads to big results
Repurposing furniture, automobile parts and other big items is becoming a popular trend, just ask Cedar Creek Home Schoolers 4-H member Laura Childress.
Bringing home the bacon
Her name is Maleri McHam, but that last name had nothing to do with her involvement in the Market Swine competition Thursday in the Henderson County Livestock Show.
AHS excells in one-act play competition
Athens High School won Area One Act Play competition, and advanced to Regional Competition on Wednesday, April 9 at Royse City High School. They will be competing at Regionals on May 1 at Texas A&M-Commerce. They will conduct a public performance at the Annex Auditorium at 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 12. Those receiving awards were: All Star Cast--Kenyon Walker; Caroline Perryman; Honorable Mention All Star Cast--Skyler Walker and Karah Capps. Shown are: first row, left to right, Tori Smith, Mollie Davies, Emma Grey, Leslie Hernandez, Marissa Cerrillo, Cindy Garcia and Lexi Lassiter; second row, left to right, Cindy Kling, Mason Senyckyj, Jakeb Smith, Felicity Walker, Karah Capps, Caity Pace, Sarah Waxter, Maggie Mizell, Caroline Perryman, Kenyon Walker, Dakota Stone and Robert Lenington; third row, left to right, John Martin, Dustin McGhee, Carter Ferrell, Alan Platt, Russell Ingram and Skyler Walker.
Special Athens kickoff
The City of Athens would like to invite local citizens to come out and show their support on April 23 during the live broadcast on Good Morning Texas to kick-off the “Europe, Texas” series from Athens.
This is an exciting opportunity for members of the Athens community to be on television for a fun, high energy segment promoting our beloved city.
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