Dalton State Golfer’s Championship Rings Recovered After Fire

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - by Misty Wheeler, Dalton State College
Chief Pangle with Dalton State golfer Dalton Johnson
Chief Pangle with Dalton State golfer Dalton Johnson

After a fire destroyed Dalton State golfer Dalton Johnson’s apartment, he feared his championship rings were lost forever.  And as a former athlete himself, Dalton Fire Chief Todd Pangle knew what those rings meant to Johnson. 

“Finding something that small is rare,” Chief Pangle said. “The only firefighters on that scene who understood what those rings meant were those of us who were former athletes. We know the hard work and dedication that goes into earning championship rings.” 

Chief Pangle was able to recover all three, as well as Johnson’s high school class ring.

“Every fire scene is different,” he said. “This one was particularly difficult. I wouldn’t even let any of my guys attempt to get the rings because the structure wasn’t well supported after the fire. It’s the luck of the draw sometimes what we’re able to recover. We were very lucky we were able to recover them all for Dalton. We see a lot of loss in our job. Finding these rings represents something good that came out of a terrible situation.” 

The weight of the water used to douse the fire at Park Canyon the morning of Dec. 15 collapsed Mr. Johnson’s second story apartment down onto the floor level. The water rushed through the first level and threw the door open. In the process, the nightstand, where the rings had been housed, was smashed to pieces. 

“To be able to find the rings after that happened is insane,” said Mr. Johnson, a business management major expected to graduate in fall 2018. “I was disappointed, but I knew I was fortunate because most everything in my apartment was replaceable. It wasn’t until later that I was able to see the damage and how all the stuff was meshed together. I can’t believe my rings were recovered.” 

Mr. Johnson had already left for his home in Forsyth for winter break when the fire occurred. He received a text from a friend that contained a link to a news story about the fire. The cause is still undetermined, Chief Pangle said. 

Ben Rickett, golf coach at Dalton State, received a text about the fire and went to check which building it was, knowing Mr. Johnson had already left for the holidays. 

“I wanted to be able to tell him it wasn’t his building,” Coach Rickett said. “Jim McGrew, also a golf coach for the College, went over there. I was worried we wouldn’t get up to the scene, but everyone knew Coach McGrew from his time at coaching Northwest Whitfield High School, and they waved us through. 

“Dalton has been here 3.5 years now,” he said. “When you coach these guys you’re not just their coach; you develop a relationship with them, a friendship that lasts for years. I didn’t want it to be his apartment. I appreciate this community so much. Everyone is asking if he needs anything. If he had needed help, we would have been able to replace his whole apartment based on the calls I received.” 

Chief Pangle knows what it’s like to have that kind of relationship with a coach, as Coach McGrew was his coach when he was in high school. 

“To have the coaches come up to the scene like they did the morning of the fire speaks well of them and the athletics program at Dalton State,” he said. “It shows what a personal interest they take in their students.” 

“People went above and beyond for people they didn’t even know,” Coach Rickett said. “It’s a nice thing to be part of and to witness. There’s not enough of this in the world.” 


Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening Workshop Event Almost Sold Out

GPS To Host 2 Events Featuring Guest Speaker, Author, Physician And Alumna, Dr. Darria Long Gillespie

Over 50 Percent Of Tennessee Public High School Seniors Raise Score On ACT Senior Retake


WTCI, the Chattanooga 2.0 Early Matters Coalition and United Way of Greater Chattanooga (UWGC) are hosting a two-day screening workshop event on Jan. 25 and 26 that will engage, educate and inspire ... (click for more)

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie is a Yale- and Harvard-trained emergency physician, a regular guest expert on CNN and The Dr. Oz Show and a national go-to doctor for simplifying health—particularly ... (click for more)

Interim Commissioner Dr. Lyle Ailshie announced today that 76.1 percent of the state’s public high school class of 2019—53,478 students—participated in the department’s third ACT Senior Retake ... (click for more)


Student Scene

Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening Workshop Event Almost Sold Out

WTCI, the Chattanooga 2.0 Early Matters Coalition and United Way of Greater Chattanooga (UWGC) are hosting a two-day screening workshop event on Jan. 25 and 26 that will engage, educate and inspire educators, service providers and caregivers through documentary screenings of “Building Strong Brains: ACEs, The Tennessee Story.” Tickets for the free event are almost sold out. ... (click for more)

GPS To Host 2 Events Featuring Guest Speaker, Author, Physician And Alumna, Dr. Darria Long Gillespie

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie is a Yale- and Harvard-trained emergency physician, a regular guest expert on CNN and The Dr. Oz Show and a national go-to doctor for simplifying health—particularly for women and parents. Now she’s sharing her expertise with a wider audience via her new book Mom Hacks: 100+ Science-Backed Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Body, Raise Awesome Kids, and Be Unstoppable, ... (click for more)

Breaking News

City Council To Vote Jan. 29 On Contract To Finally Clean Up The Lupton City Mill Site

The City Council is set to vote On Jan. 29 on a long-awaited contract to clean up the Lupton Mill site. The contract with Wright Brothers of Charleston, Tn., is for $1,676,744, with a contingency of $150,000. It calls for the firm to complete the demolition of remnants of buildings remaining at the site along Mercer Street. The site will be "rubblized" and then material ... (click for more)

Askia Witherow Charged In October 2018 Murder Of Jacob Dakota Moore Of Apison

Authorities have charged Askia Witherow in the October 2018 murder of Jacob Dakota Moore of Apison. An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, the 10 th District Attorney General’s Office and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the arrest of the 39-year-old Ooltewah man. At the request ... (click for more)

Opinion

Don’t Trust County Attorney Taylor’s Gag Order

At this point, most of us are aware of the WWTA debacle on site selection and the half-baked planning for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road. There were also untruths given to the public about the basis or need for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road by WWTA. That, my friends, is offensive. Pam Sohn of the Times Free Press outed the WWTA’s false contention ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It seems there has been quite an increase in calls from telemarketers and I asked my man Cleo if he had any idea how to stop them. “What works if you are male -- Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company. " You: Wait for a second and with a real husky voice ask, "What are you wearing?" If you are a female try this: Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my ... (click for more)