Crash Destroys School | VideoEvan Kruegel | 9/18/2012
A passenger vehicle failed to yield to an oncoming semi truck, who struck the smaller vehicle and ran both cars off the road. The truck then careened out of control, and into the school.
When the walls of her school suddenly came crashing in, tenth grader Rachel Timmons had no idea what was going on.
"I thought it was a bomb at first."
But It wasn`t a bomb at all. Instead, it was an out of control Kenworth Semi-Truck.
"I saw the walls in my dad`s office come apart and I thought, `I should probably get out of here.` So I started running, and I tripped and face-planted into the ground, and pieces of sheet rock came down and hit me on the back," Rachel said.
The truck was westbound on Highway 73 when a smaller vehicle failed to yield the right of way. The semi struck that vehicle, then careened off the road out of control. It continued through a ditch, up a hill, and through a fence, before plowing into a student`s pick-up truck and then into the school.
But the truck didn`t just break through the wall. It continued for 60 feet into the school, destroying the entire cafeteria and the office of the principal, who by sheer luck, was gone from school.
"I wouldn`t be alive here today, and I probably would have had my own son in the office with me at that time of day also, so it`s a miracle that we didn`t have students killed," said Principal Adrian Timmons.
In fact, students were just changing lunch shifts. Some were outside on recess, and some were just entering the cafeteria.
"It`s amazing, God`s grace, the timing, just a few minutes earlier and we would have lost numbers of students," Principal Timmons said.
His daughter, Rachel, credits the pick-up truck that came through the wall first, as the reason she`s alive. The semi truck ended up embedded inside the cafeteria, where a male student rushed to free the driver who was trapped inside.
"If we hadn`t have gotten out when the pickup came through, the semi would have killed us all, because it came right over the table where we were all eating," she said.
School officials say it was only a matter of time before something tragic happened at what they call a very dangerous intersection. That being said, they certainly never expected this.
The driver of the smaller vehicle was Althea Mandan, 65, who was killed in the accident.
A number of students were taken to the hospital in Watford City, but none were seriously hurt.
Classes have been cancelled for the rest of the week.