By Jasmine Franklin
The wife of a Ponoka County councillor will be deeply missed after what’s being called a tragic accident killed Shirley Hinkley, 75.
“This was a terrible and unexpected accident,” Coun. Gawney Hinkley told the Ponoka News. “Not only for Shirley, or myself, but also for Blair.”
At 8:45 a.m. April 13, RCMP responded to the Hinkleys’ rural home north of Ponoka where a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian had been reported. Shirley Hinkley was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say a drunken Blair Jason Hinkley, 36, was driving a semi-tractor unit out of a building on the property when he hit his mother. When RCMP arrived, they arrested him and took the vehicle for testing.
Ponoka Cpl. Gary MacLaren told the Ponoka News April 14 that the vehicle was moving forward when it struck Mrs. Hinkley.
Hinkley appeared in court April 16 over closed circuit television from the Edmonton Remand Centre. His bail has been denied, and he will remain in custody until his next court appearance April 23 when he is expected to have retained a lawyer. Hinkley whimpered when he was told by the judge he would remain in custody another week.
He has been charged with impaired driving causing death and operation of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of over 80mg/per cent.
Coun. Hinkley is grateful for the support he has received across the province but he remained quiet in court.
“I’ve been through a lot in my day, but nothing like this,” Coun. Hinkley told the Ponoka News. “One of the worst parts is (Blair) can’t attend his mother’s funeral. And if he does he attend he will be in (a jail uniform).”
Fellow county councillors were shook up by the news and chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth said Mrs. Hinkley will be a woman deeply missed.
“Shirley was a wonderful, heartfelt person who would help anybody at anytime,” he told Ponoka News. “Everybody loved her and it is with heartfelt sorrow we send our sympathy to the family.”
In a press release issued by the county, Cutforth said, “Shirley was Gawney’s constant companion and was a great friend at the county.”
Mrs. Hinkley was involved with church groups including the Baptist Church and was a member of the mending club (a farm club).
Coun. Hinkley has been a Ponoka County councillor since 1989 and has served as both reeve and deputy reeve. He has no plans to break from council.
“Council is what is going to keep me going with something,” he said. “They have been very good to me.”