Death probed; 5 sickened by chemical


FAIRMONT — Robeson County authorities have not said what killed a Fairmont woman who was found dead at her home on Monday.

She was the wife of the former town manager of Fairmont.

According to Maj. Anthony Thompson, chief of detectives for the Sheriff’s Office, Patricia Dawn Hill’s body was found in her home at 1697 Happy Hill Road after deputies went to the residence at about 9:20 Monday morning. Three Sheriff’s Office employees and a resident were sickened by an unknown chemical after going to the home.

Hill, who went by Dawn, was previously married to the late Ben Hill, town manager for many years. They had two children, a son and a daughter.

“She was a wonderful, loving, sweet person,” said Charles Kemp, a longtime mayor of Fairmont who went to high school with Hill. Kemp also worked closely with her husband in town government.

“She was always bright, cheerful and happy. She was an outstanding beautician, always had a smile on her face, always pleasant,” Kemp said. “It’s a tragedy and I am deeply sorry for the family.”

Hill was 68 or 69 years old.

Thompson said it’s unclear what killed Hill, but her death is being investigated as a homicide. He said he did not have information about what injuries she had suffered and there were no suspects.

Thompson did not know why deputies were originally dispatched to the home.

Four people who had gone to the home began to feel dizzy and were taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center “as a precautionary measure,” Thompson said. A spokesperson for the hospital said five people were decontaminated and treated before being released later in the Monday. It was unclear who the fifth person might have been.

Authorities aren’t sure what the chemical was. Early reports indicated it may have been a chemical used in beauty salons. Thompson said Hill had operated a beauty salon in a separate building next door to her home.

Greg Bounds, director of Emergency Medical Services for the county, said air samples were taken by a Hazmat team dispatched from Fayetteville and no hazardous materials were identified. He said there was never a risk of a fire or explosion.

Amid heavy rain, deputies were still processing the scene at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Happy Hill Road was blocked for several hours, but Thompson said the public was not at risk.

“The road is a heavily traveled roadway and we felt the need to close the road so we wouldn’t have to focus so much on traffic,” Thompson said.

Lumberton Rescue and EMS, Fairmont Rural Fire Department and Fairmont police assisted throughout the day to control traffic and give medical attention to those who were sickened.

“I was very, very pleased how everything went on our end,” Bounds said. “It was good to know how our resources worked together and they worked together with flying colors.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Thompson at the Sheriff’s Office at 910-671-3100.

Photo courtesy of ABC15 News Happy Hill Road in Fairmont was closed off for several hours on Monday as Robeson Counties deputies investigated the death of Patricia Dawn Hill and a Hazmat team worked to identify an unknown chemical that sickened several people who went to her home.

Photo courtesy of ABC15 News
Happy Hill Road in Fairmont was closed off for several hours on Monday as Robeson Counties deputies investigated the death of Patricia Dawn Hill and a Hazmat team worked to identify an unknown chemical that sickened several people who went to her home.

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