Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

The car just happened to belong to one of the most wonderful people I know and law enforcement needs help tracking down who did it.

Here's a little back story about the victims in this.

I met Hannah Camacho recently while participating in the Rome Celebrity Dance Challenge. She's a teacher at West Central Elementary School. She's pregnant with her second child. She and her husband work hard and I know for a fact that for the past few months Hannah has given so much of her time training and fundraising for the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia.

I'm pretty fit and energetic but our dance practices for the event were tiring. I can only imagine how Hannah felt. She's a wonderful mom, wife, teacher and she's carrying a little baby in her belly and she managed to come to every practice and do all the moves without complaint. In fact, she had one of the sweetest smiles and the most generous personalities of anyone in the event.

And she did it all (the dancing, the fundraising and the promoting of the event) shoulder to shoulder with everyone else, never using her pregnancy as an excuse to do less.

On top of that, she had her other responsibilities as a mom, wife and teacher to consider as well.

The dance challenge was on Saturday night at the Rome City Auditorium. Hannah and her partner, Floyd County Police Sgt. Rusty Williams, did a great job on stage and when it was all over Hannah, her husband and their son went home. Sometime that night someone stole their car from in front of their house, took whatever they wanted from it and set it on fire four miles away on Painter Road.

According to Hannah's partner Rusty, the county police are the main investigators in the case but other agencies are lending resources as well because they believe the same person may have stolen a car from Little Texas Valley Road and done the same thing to it. That car was found on the same day Hannah's car was. The thieves had attempted to burn this one as well.

I know there are other crimes, some more serious, that happen in our community. But this one hits close to home for me. Hannah is the sweetest, most gentle person. And she was very kind to me throughout this entire process.

As her dance partner said she probably would have simply handed over the keys to her car if someone had told her they needed it more than she did.

But they didn't. They took it and left it burning.

And even after they did that, Hannah took to social media the next day and instead of bemoaning her misfortune, she didn't even talk about the car. She talked about how fortunate she was to have been a part of the dance challenge. She talked about how she was honored to help raise funds for the Sexual Assault Center. And she talked about how she was lucky to be a part of a community that would rally behind such a great event.

Well maybe the community can help out with this.

I'm asking anyone who may have any information about this case to call the crime line at 706-236-5000. You can remain anonymous. 

If you saw or heard anything out of the ordinary in the Emerald Oaks or Applewood subdivisions or on Old Dalton between those two subdivisions on Saturday night, please considering telling authorities what you know.

And lock your car doors. Even if you think you live in a very safe neighborhood. These people aren't breaking windows. They're opening unlocked cars and taking people's belongings or the entire vehicle.

We could all stand to be a little more vigilant of our surroundings and to look out for one another, making it tougher for criminals to victimize any of us.

It would be great if whoever did this to Hannah's family (and any other family) was brought to justice. I'm sure Hannah herself probably wouldn't want me to write this column. Knowing her, she may already have forgiven the person in her heart. That's just the kind of person she is.

But by alerting authorities of any information you have in this case, you're helping stop another family from being victimized in this way. If you know who did this, say something. Cause if you don't, you're a part of the problem. And you're a coward.


Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune