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Accident claims Hood family member

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Jeffery Mark Hood, son of the late director of the Clayton County Building and Maintenance Department, and nephew of the fire department's assistant chief, died Wednesday evening.

Hood was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident in Spalding County. He was 37.

In the family's obituary notice, Hood is described as a carpenter who loved working with his hands and had a great heart of compassion.

He leaves behind two sons, Eli and Noah, his mother, Pat Hood, his brother, Brian Hood, his sister, Kimberly Higgins, and a large and close extended family, with deep roots in Clayton County.

"Tragedy has again struck the Hood family," wrote Alex Cohilas, chief of the Clayton County Fire Department, in an e-mail. "Let us all pray that God grant the Hood family the strength necessary to endure this latest loss."

Donnie Ray Hood, Jeffery Mark Hood's father, died earlier this year. He died on Feb. 29, while facing prosecution on allegations he stole a county-owned flag, prosecution the Hood family believes was politically motivated, and meant to aid an attack on some county officials. After the district attorney's office threatened to take away Donnie Ray Hood's pension, during a bitter and rapidly escalating public fight with Hood's attorney, Hood took his own life.

The family was emotionally devastated by Donnie Ray Hood's death, and the news left many county officials and employees somber. The Hood family has an extensive record of public service in Clayton County.

Sentiment among some officials is that this second death in the family, coming almost exactly three months later, seemed like it might be too much tragedy to bear.

"It's devastating," said Eldrin Bell, Clayton County Commission Chairman. "I know there's still a God, but wow. I know God promised he wouldn't give us more than we can bear, but this is a real tragedy, and I can't imagine how much pain Pat Hood is going through."

Bell said the county's department heads had a moment of silence at a staff meeting on Thursday morning, and he said he has been praying for the family.

Bell echoed Donnie Ray Hood, who, a week before he died, said that he was scared at what he had to face, but, speaking for his family, said, "With God's help, we're going to get through this."