(04/02/2012)
Clay's controversial sheriff Randy Holcomb and other officials are being sued by a Clay county widow, alleging the wrongful death of her husband two years ago.

Adam Nottingham drowned in the Gauley River following a 25-mile police chase from Clay to Fayette County, with spike strips proving unsuccessful in stopping him.

Nottingham later jumped out of his car and either fell or jumped into the water, according to the suit.

The lawsuit is claiming Sheriff Holcomb in a "very loud, boisterous, and profane manner" refused to allow rescue squads to go in, even after they heard a scream for help, and knew Nottingham only had one arm.

The family was highly critical over the lack of effort to find his body, officials said the water was too high. It was found 22 days later.

The suit has also been filed against former Clay mayor and police chief Jack Brown.

Nottingham's attorney John Mitchell Sr. said that after an "extensive investigation" they can find no reason for the initial chase. The suit states the officers were well aware the driver was Adam Nottingham, and he was "deathly afraid" of the sheriff.

The suit claims the sheriff's actions were "negligent, intentional, and malicious" and he took away Nottingham's "last chance of life."

Sheriff Holcomb's eight year term has not been without controversy.

In 2005 he was the target of a bombing over what was described as his war on meth. Also that year he declined to sign county checks because the county commission would not pay his deputies for unused vacation days.

Holcomb hit the news in 2008 when he blasted his own cruiser, shooting out the windows, after a drunken man stole it.

In 2011, Holcomb got angry at court officials after a Clay man was released on bond from Central Regional Jail, when Holcomb claimed he had already removed his ankle device once. Holcomb's allegation was held in question.

In February 2012, Holcomb sent a letter to officials saying he would no longer respond to routine calls, DUIs, or accidents, angered because magistrates were not prosecuting his cases and the State Police had moved the DUI analyzer out of Clay to their new barracks at Big Otter.

Since then, State Police have provided a DUI analyzer to the sheriff, and after a contentious battle is again answering calls.

Holcomb, according to critics, owns one of the largest arsenals of automatic, semi-automatic guns, and weapons in the region.


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