by BRAD ROLLINS
Hays County political gadfly Charles O’Dell died Wednesday after his motor scooter collided with a sports utility vehicle at Hopkins and North streets in San Marcos.
O’Dell, a 75-year-old Dripping Springs area retiree, was pronounced dead shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday after he was transported to Central Texas Medical Center.
According to Sgt Brandon Winkenwerder, O’Dell was traveling east on Hopkins around 4:15 p.m, on a Kymco Grand Vista Motor Scooter behind another vehicle approaching the North Street intersection.
A westbound Dodge Durango driven by Joshua Matthew Eismann, 22, of New Braunfels, attempted to turn left on North Street and struck O’Dell’s motor scooter, knocking O’Dell off the cycle.
He was taken by ambulance to CTMC where he was pronounced dead by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace JoAnn Prado shortly before 5 p.m.
As the self-appointed leader of an organization he called HaysCAN, O’Dell distinguished himself in his last decade as an activist in county politics, deploying an incendiary mix of accusation and innuendo in support of his chosen candidates, which included former County Judge Elizabeth Sumter and, for a time, County Judge Bert Cobb.
Casting himself in the role of kingmaker and spoiler, O’Dell was at the center of one local legal and political drama after another. His small cadre of supporters saw him as a fearless and dogged crusader against corruption but those he targeted thought he was a reckless provocateur without shame or scruples. Officials he aided politically, Sumter and Cobb included, later appeared to regret accepting his help after he turned on them with alarming swiftness.
In a 2007 lawsuit against the county’s commissioners court, San Marcos restauranteur Nicholas Ramus accused O’Dell of orchestrating an effort backed by Sumter to illegally revoke Ramus’ septic permit as a reward to political supporter Carolyn Logan, who has an ongoing feud with Ramus. The commissioners court later voted to settle the suit on undisclosed terms.
The saga of the neighbors on the Old Bastrop Highway warring over a septic tank continues to be a theme running through local politics even as the county urbanizes and the population pushes toward a quarter million. As his theories became ever wilder in recent years, O’Dell accused a county inspector caught up in the Ramus septic tank affair of plotting to murder an intruder at his home and other county officials of covering up the homicidal scheme.
In 2009, O’Dell won an action before the Texas Third Court of Appeals appealing his conviction in municipal and county courts of violating the city of Dripping Spring’s sign ordinance during a protest of the Belterra subdivision.
Amber Land, a Texas State sophomore, told the University Star that she witnessed the collision on Wednesday and attempted to render aid to the victim, who she said was breathing but unresponsive immediately following the accident.
Eismann was cited for failure to yield the right of way. The San Marcos fire department, San Marcos-Hays County EMS and SMPD Collision Investigation Team responded to the scene.
This is the second fatal accident in San Marcos in 2012. On Jan. 17, pedestrian Juan Gonzales, 67, was struck and killed while attempting to cross Texas 123.Email | Print