O.B. Owens of Danville was driving this truck when it was hit by a northbound CSX freight train in Falkville Friday morning. He suffered multiple injuries and died later at Huntsville Hospital.  | Clif Knight
O.B. Owens of Danville was driving this truck when it was hit by a northbound CSX freight train in Falkville Friday morning. He suffered multiple injuries and died later at Huntsville Hospital. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Community remembers Owens

Published 4:19pm Monday, June 17, 2013

Everything seemed normal Friday morning when Jim Grissom had his usual visit with good friend O.B. Owens.

“We’d usually get together about every two or three days and talk about business and other matters,” Grissom said.

However, that would be the last time Grissom would chat with his good friend.

Owens, a former Danville football coach and Falkville High School principal, died Friday at Huntsville Hospital after sustaining injuries when the late model pickup truck he was driving was struck by a CSX freight train at the Second Street crossing in Falkville.

Owens coached football at Danville High School for 15 seasons, starting in its infancy and compiled a 76-76-1 record. Previously, he was head coach at R.A. Hubbard High School from 1969 to 1974. His career record was 100-109-4.

“He was friendly, likeable and a man of high principles,” said Danville High Principal Gilmer Ellis. “All of his players liked and respected him.”

The accident occurred at 11:20 a.m. as Owens was driving east and the train was headed north. The train’s impact caved in the passenger side of the pickup and knocked it about 50 feet from the crossing.

Owens was airlifted to Huntsville Hospital by a medical transport helicopter following the crash.

Falkville Police Chief Chris Free said Owens was apparently not wearing a seat belt.

The crossing has warning signals but no gates.

Falkville police and CSX officials are investigating the accident.

Owens was laid to rest on Monday. He is survived by his wife, Linda; a daughter, Jonna Owens-Lee; two sisters; and a grandchild, Mary Beth Lee.

Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. said he’s known Owens since he was in high school, as a coach, principal and family friend.

“He was a great man and well respected in all areas,” Hopkins said. “As superintendent I can say Morgan County Schools lost a valued educator and a good friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Grissom got to know Owens well while working with him in the business world.

“When you do business with someone you learn a lot about that person’s character,” Grissom said.

“To the letter, O.B. was above board and honest,” Grissom added. “He adhered to high principles and was very compassionate, especially toward the underdog. If he knew about someone who was hurting and needed help, he would help them and not let anybody know about it. This world needs a lot more people like him.”

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