Mental Health Center employee who died in wreck known for love, patience with children

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MOULTON, Ala. - The mental health community in Lawrence County is grieving the loss of a beloved employee who died in a wreck Wednesday on Alabama Highway 24.

The collision involved a van belonging to the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama, and a dump truck.  Inside the van were children, a driver and 86-year-old Janie Owens of Moulton.  Owens died in the wreck.

Janie Owens (Photo: Family)

Janie Owens (Photo: Family)

Health center staff said Owens, 86, spent the last years of her life dedicated to the mental health and stability of Lawrence County children.

"She was well liked and appreciated by staff and the children she worked with," said Bill Giguere, the Mental Health Center's Foundation Development Officer.

Owens was the ride-along monitor for three remaining children on their way home Wednesday afternoon.  She spent her last moments fulfilling a passion.

"I believe she started when she was 60 years old.  So, over 20 years, starting at the age of 60 she was a mental health worker," Giguere said.

The consummate community servant, Owens worked in the children's summer day treatment program in Moulton.

The Lawrence-Moulton Health Counseling Center will be closed Thursday, Friday and Monday, June 18 - 22 in order to give employees time to debrief and grieve.

"You know, when you have someone that's worked on staff since 1995, it's traumatic for staff and you have to give a little room, a little time for people to readjust and go forward," said Giguere.

Going forward will include waiting for authorities to determine what actually happened on Highway 24.  State Trooper Curtis Summerville said investigators still need to talk with the drivers of the van and the dump truck, who are hospitalized.

The three children injured in the wreck did not suffer serious injuries, but are still being treated.

Funeral arrangements

Public visitation for Miss Owens is Sunday and Saturday throughout the day at Freeman Tabernacle Church, located at 2871 Byler Road in Moulton.  A private visitation for family will be Sunday from 6 to 7 p.m.  The funeral is Monday at 1 p.m. at Freeman Tabernacle.  Burial will follow in Landersville Cemetery.

Jackson Memory Funeral Home in Town Creek is handling arrangements.

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