The mother of A.J. Timms — who died as a result of injuries sustained inside a store at Bonita Lakes Mall in January — says she's at peace with the events that led to her son's death, and she accepts investigators' conclusion that it was a tragic accident.

Marsha Timms remembered her son Monday as a sensitive young man who wrote poetry. Since his death on Jan. 30, she said, she has come to realize that he had many friends and touched the lives of numerous people.

Through his organ donations alone, Timms was able to save the lives of at least four people, his mother said.

"I know that A.J. is in heaven," Mrs. Timms said. "It just doesn't seem real that he is dead because the way he died was so freakish."

Arthur R. "A.J." Timms, 22, of Meridian, died Jan. 30 from injuries he received the day before in Hat Shack Inc. His death was the result of a penetrating brain injury caused by a peg used to display hats, according to Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler.

Mrs. Timms said the father of a girl who was inside the store and witnessed the accident contacted the Timms family.

"The girl said A.J. and the other guy were playing around and A.J. jumped on the guy's back like he was riding piggyback, and they fell backward," she said. "It was all in fun and nothing was intentionally done. It doesn't make it much easier or make us miss him any less, but we needed to know if (his death) was an accident or if it was intentional."

A spokesman for the Meridian Police Department said investigators officially ruled Timms' death accidental. However, Lt. Dean Harper said the case will be presented to a Lauderdale County grand jury next month.

"That is common practice in cases like this," he said. "Even though the death has been ruled an accident, it is better to let a group of citizens decide on that rather than letting a handful of detectives decide."



Mrs. Timms said she was comforted by the people who called to lend their support after her son's death. She said she has not heard from mall representatives but received a call from Mark Monroe, president of Hat Shack Inc.

Representatives of Bonita Lakes Mall could not be reached for comment Monday.

Monroe said Monday in a telephone interview from Hat Shack's corporate office in Atlanta that his reaction to Timms' death was to close the store for a few days and to contact the Timms family.

"I had two employees who had a friend to die, and that was my main concern," Monroe said.

Monroe said he has been in discussions about the possibility of changing the pegs used to display hats in the store, but he said no decision has been made.

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