After officer-involved shooting, mother of wounded children gets donated minivan

Olivia Hill cries and hugs attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons as Lonnie Vaughn of Car Care Clinic looks on during a ceremony where Hill received a van from Car Care Clinic and HHH Transmission Thursday, May 9, 2019. Three of Hill’s children were shot and injured recently in Hugo by a Hugo police officer. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

In the two weeks since Olivia Hill’s three children were wounded in an officer-involved shooting while sitting in her car in Hugo, she has relied on friends and family to make the resulting doctor’s appointments, school and work.

On Thursday, Tulsa nonprofit Car Care Clinic and HHH Transmission teamed up to donate a minivan to Hill, moving her to tears on the eve of Mother’s Day weekend.

“I just want to thank everybody for this,” Hill said after receiving the car at HHH Transmission’s shop in east Tulsa. “This has been a really hard time. Really hard. … I’m so grateful.”

Hill’s attorney, Damario Solomon-Simmons, said police fired more than 25 times while trying to make contact with William Devaughn Smith, who was reportedly driving the car and believed to be a suspect in a recent robbery in Hugo.

Three of Hill’s children — La’Kvionn, 5; Asia, 4; and Daidriona, 1 — were injured and her car heavily damaged. The southeast Oklahoma town saw protests in the shooting’s aftermath. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation.

The children have been released from the hospital, but Solomon-Simmons said they may suffer permanent complications after two were hit in the head. That’s before considering the mental toll of going through an event like that, Solomon Simmons said.

“This has been an unbelievable experience for her,” Solomon-Simmons said. “It’s been so traumatic for her and the children.”

Car Care Clinic, a ministry project started as an option for low-income families to have car repairs at reduced cost, donated the car with the help of a new transmission from HHH.

Lonnie Vaughan, Car Care Clinic’s executive director, said the donation was a bit outside the box for the organization, but well worth it to help a single mother in need.

“We know how we need transportation in Tulsa, so you go to a small community like Hugo and it’s that many times over,” Vaughan said. “She’s got to go back to her normal life, going to work, getting the kids to school and she has no vehicle. That’s where we stepped in.

“We’re not going to look, judge, pick sides, that’s not what we’re here for. We have a mother that’s in need with young children. That’s the part we’re playing. She’s got a way to get around now.”

Chris Hayes, owner of HHH, said he has helped the Car Care Clinic with repairs since the organization’s founding.

Typically, the cars are repaired and sent on their way, with Hayes and other mechanics never seeing the end result of their work. They don’t see the impact that the low-cost repairs have on families strapped for cash.

In Thursday’s case, Hayes said it was incredible to see their work not only mean something, but see someone in need benefit from it as well.

“Once I send (a car) to Lonnie, I don’t ever really think about it again,” Hayes said. “We don’t need acknowledgement. … It’s really neat to see someone get a car for free that we helped make go.”