By Cindy Jo Ayers
One of the most well respected and much loved families in Gilchrist County perished on Thursday evening, December 30th. Ronnie and Shelly Hicks and their children had left their home near Hart Springs in Gilchrist County, in their private helicopter. They flew to a young couple’s home southwest of Bronson. The couples and their children attended Ebenezer Baptist Church together and were friends. The families enjoyed an evening of fellowship before the Hicks family left in the helicopter just before 8:30 p.m., to fly home.
The Levy County Sheriff’s Office reported that they received a 911 call at 8:30 p.m. from an eye witness that reported a possible aircraft crash. Several minutes later a second call was received at the LCSO from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reporting a distress beacon in the same general location the witness had reported. Levy County Deputies responded to a wooded area off NE 60th Lane near Wekiva Road west of the Town of Bronson, where they discovered the scene of the helicopter crash.
The investigators learned the family of four were Ronnie, 36, his wife Shelly, 32, and their children, eight-year-old Parker and five-year-old Jaylyn.
Levy County’s Sheriff Bobby McCallum reached out to Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz with the sad news of the crash. Sheriff Schultz contacted the pastors and together they notified both Ronnie and Shelly’s parents, who are Donnie and Tammi Hicks and Travis and Carmen Law, all of Gilchrist County. LCSO reported the aircraft experienced an undetermined failure causing the crash.
Their many friends began to learn of the tragedy on Friday morning. Everyone who knew the family were devastated by the news. They were an “all American family,” who worked hard and had great success in their chosen careers.
The Hicks were Trenton High School graduates, Ronnie graduated in 2003 and Shelly in 2006, they married in 2007.
After high school, Shelly become a Nurse Practitioner earning her degree from the University of Florida. She worked with Palms Medical Group in Bell, for several years. She had recently become a stay at home mom, and was helping her husband with their fast growing and successful business.
Dr. Bruce Thomas, Sr., Chief Medical Officer for the Palms Medical Group, said on Sunday, “To have known Shelly, Ronnie and their kids was a blessing. What an honor and privilege to have served alongside her as she took care of others. She is irreplaceable. Our community will forever be impacted by her love and care of others.” Dr. Thomas stated, “Her love, compassion and dedication to care for those in the Gilchrist County and surrounding areas was unsurpassed.”
Shortly after they were married they started a blueberry farm on their property and sold blueberries for a couple of years while starting Hicks Asphalt Paving and Concrete, a Trenton based company. The company has grown during the past 14 years, with many employees. Hicks was known for their quality work.
The family was very active in their church and in their community. They did a lot to support their former school and the community as a whole.
Ronnie had a very cheerful personality and never met a stranger. He was quick to give a big smile and a firm hand shake. Ronnie’s hobby was flying, first with a plane and more recently his Robinson helicopter.
They were both very involved with their children, spending a lot of time with them and encouraging them to succeed.
Parker, who was in second grade at Trenton Elementary, loved to play his ukulele and recently played it at the Trenton Elementary Rotary Christmas Concert, held on Dec. 13th. He also loved racing go carts with his dad. Jaylyn loved dancing and singing. As a family they were always together whether it was at the beach, camping or traveling, living life to the fullest.
In every way this young family was such a blessing to Gilchrist County, their families and their many friends.
Ronnie, Shelly, Parker and Jaylyn, will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.
Funeral services will be held at Trenton High School on Thursday, January 6, 2022, at 11 a.m., with visitation beginning at 10 a.m.
The families have requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Ebenezer Baptist Church Building Fund in honor of the Hicks Family. The church mailing address is Ebenezer Baptist Chruch 12250 NE 30th Ave., Chiefland, FL 32626.
Community mourns loss of Hicks family in tragic accident
By Cindy Jo Ayers