City of Arab mourning loss of woman killed in weekend wreck

Nicki Penn; Courtesy of Penn family

Police say a driver who was impaired hit Nicki Penn's car Saturday night at the intersection of US-231 and Northgate Drive.

Posted: Mar 25, 2019 4:58 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2019 2:55 PM

An Arab city employee, Nicki Penn, was killed Saturday night when a driver who police say was impaired hit her car at the intersection of US-231 and Northgate Drive.

Nicki Penn and her husband, Greg, were sitting in their car at the intersection when someone ran a red light. Both cars crashed into the power source for the traffic lights at the intersection, leaving Nicki dead and her husband, Greg, injured. 

Jeremy Jones

Now, the city is fixing the traffic lights and will start an investigation into what happened. Crews were out at the intersection on Monday repairing the damage, and the Arab police chief says it's a tragedy that didn't have to happen.

"There are so many avenues, from Uber to taxi to friends, you know, there are other alternatives to get you home," said Arab police chief, Ed Ralston.

Ralston says what happened to Nicki Penn could have been avoided with just one phone call. He said one careless act caused a ripple effect, and it will take time for the city to heal.

"This has really destroyed this one family and has really affected so many people, and it's sad for this to happen when it was not intentional," said Ralston.

Nikki worked at the Arab Recreational Center for two years. Her boss said she was a sensational person to come in contact with.

"If you came into the rec center, you know her smile just brightened the day," said Eric Hayes, the director of Parks and Recreation.

Hayes said he and his team are like family and losing someone so genuine is devastating, and it will take time to find their new normal.

"She was a rockstar. She just brought life to this department, and you know those are going to be some tough shoes to fill," said Hayes.

Police say Jeremy Jones was driving drunk Saturday night when he ran a red light and hit the vehicle Nicki Penn and her husband were in. Right now, he's charged with driving under the influence, and police say he had no criminal history.

Hayes says employees of the rec center plan to create a plaque to honor Nicki.

"Look at how it's torn this precious family up, you know, like I said, make wise choices and don't do this," said Hayes.

As for the investigation, Arab police say Guntersville police will help in the investigation since they initially responded to the crash.

The Penn family is asking for donations to help cover funeral costs. Donations can be sent to Arab Heritage Memorial Chapel in Arab. A GoFundMe has also been set up for the Penn family.

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