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CHS '75 graduate killed

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The salutatorian of Cornersville High School's Class of 1975 died July 5, as a result of a bicycle accident in Charleston, S.C.

Mitchell F. Hollon, 54, was riding on the James Island Connector on Tuesday morning when, according to the ABC-TV affiliate there, he was struck by an AT&T truck that swerved into the bike lane.

Hollon was thrown over the side of the bridge, falling 40 feet to the marsh below. WIS-TV's Web site reports The Charleston County Coroner's Office says Hollon died from full blunt trauma.

Hollon was a noted anesthesiologist, who worked on all 35 of the first heart transplants performed in South Carolina, according to Dr. Jack Crumbley, the heart surgeon who performed those transplants. He called Hollon "a best friend."

Hollon entered Cornersville High School as a freshman after moving there from Louisiana. Friends say they remember that as a teenager, his dry wit and intelligence were evident, and that he knew he wanted to be a doctor. He rode his bicycle everywhere and was a talented musician, playing tenor sax with a band in Pulaski.

"Mitch was a quiet person," wrote Pam Thomason, whose maiden name, Haislip, meant that she sat next to him in many of their classes at CHS. "Once he came out of his shell and became your friend, he was a joy to know. He had a tender heart and a brilliant mind. This is the reason for his success as a doctor. I was proud that God put Mitch into our lives in Cornersville, and I am sure God is proud to have him on His team in heaven."

"At the Medical University (of South Carolina) he was known for his meticulous and expert patient care, easy going manner, and dry and inventive wit," a South Carolina colleague reported in his obituary. "He was an excellent teacher and a favorite of patients, residents, and staff both. He always knew what to say to comfort patients. According to one of his partners, 'He was the one you wanted beside you taking care of the sickest of patients.' Mitch was known for the self-effacing, dry, almost arid wit that hid beneath a seemingly taciturn exterior."

In later life, Hollon played piano, banjo, guitar and clarinet and was fond of playing Scott Joplin rags.

He built and maintained his own bikes, and regularly cycled over 3,000 miles per year. "He loved riding in the mountains, especially long, difficult climbs," one Hollon's colleague wrote. "He considered himself a "gearhead" and ...was well known in the Charleston bicycling community."

The accident was the second cyclist fatality in Charleston this year, and news reports indicate that it refocused a debate on safety in the city where various leaders say sharing space with cyclists is key to thriving as an urban environment. South Carolina is said to be the most dangerous state in the country for cyclists.

See page 2 for Dr. Hollon's obituary.