Witnesses describe chaotic scene after hayride crash
“There was hay everywhere, debris from the trailer was all over and there were parts of Halloween costumes everywhere.”
That’s how Kevin Owens described the scene in front of his home on Oct. 28 following a horrific hayride crash in Ridgeland involving some of his family members.
Kevin, and his wife Deanne, who live on Tarboro Road, had settled in for the evening and were watching a football game when they heard what sounded like a loud bang, a sound neither will forget.
“I called for help and told 911 about the truck hitting the tractor trailer and that there was just chaos everywhere,” Deanne said. “I didn’t know who was in the wreck; I was frantic on the phone, called and ran out the door.”
Unaware of what she might see, Deanne rushed out the front door to see how she could help.
“When I opened the front door, I knew it was family that was involved in the accident because I recognized the trailer and knew it was the hayride my family had for at least the last three years,” she recalled. “I went to people who needed help.”
Deanne said once she realized who was involved in the wreck, she first checked on her cousin and her cousin’s 8-year-old child. Once she realized they were OK, Deanne had them go into the house to move them away from the scene.
“There was a lot of screaming, yelling and a lot that was unknown,” she said.
The majority of those on the ride were related to the Owenses, Kevin said.
Deanne said she later saw Talon Horry, one of the critically injured boys, face down on the grass and asked him if he was OK. She said Talon told her he thought he had broken his leg. He was later diagnosed with a broken femur.
“We prayed with some of the ones who had been on the trailer, and we prayed for them, we helped in any way we could,” she said. “We kept reassuring those who were hurt that we had called 911 and help was on the way. We did whatever the first responders needed us to do. We wanted to do whatever we could to help.”
Deanne said the scene was dark and there was no way of knowing what they would be walking into. She recalled how much respect she has for those who save lives on a daily basis.
“I’ve always had a deep respect for the first responders and it’s deeper now since I experienced what they do to some extent,” she said. “They never know what they will be facing when going on a call. The sights and sounds from that night are forever etched in my mind.”
Kevin said it was very dark at first and there was no way of being able to see who was involved. He said the sound from the crash made him think someone had been driving and had struck a power pole in their front yard.
“As I got closer, people were scattered everywhere,” Kevin said. “Tristan (Horry, one of the critically injured boys), had been thrown into the road. I went to check on him first but he was unconscious. I saw Deanne was with Talon and I was trying to assess who was hurt the worst. With the majority of those on the trailer being family, it made it even more of a challenge to keep focused, but we knew we had to help them as much as we could.”
Kevin said he later helped the driver of the pickup truck, identified by S.C. Highway Patrol as Brandon Davis, who seemed stunned.
“His airbag had deployed and he was shook up and emotionally trying to deal with what had just happened,” he said. “I was able to take him off to the side, away from all that was happening around him. The man driving the trailer (identified by S.C. Highway Patrol as Hiram Lowther) was also shook up about what had happened.”
Alcohol is not suspected as a factor in the crash with either driver. No charges had been filed as of Monday, according to Matt Southern of S.C. Highway Patrol. Kevin said Ridgeland Fire Chief Bradley Bonds arrived at the scene about a minute after the accident.
“I cannot say enough about how quickly the first responders got to the scene to help, this could have been so much worse,” he said.
Kevin and Deanne said they also visited the hospital to check on all of the injured and stayed with the families in the emergency room following the accident.
“We were glad that we were home and were able to just be there to try and help anyone we could,” Kevin said.
Fire Chief quick to the scene
Bonds was in the area when he heard the call over the emergency radio. He responded within minutes. While trained to respond to calls involving multiple injuries, he said the call that night was somewhat different.
“I don’t think we have had a hayride accident like this before,” Bonds said. “The first thing that went through my mind was I needed to get there, rope off the area of the accident, and get triage started, going from the most seriously injured to least seriously injured.”
Upon arrival, Bonds said there were children and adults involved in the accident.
“When you have children involved, it’s a different scene,” he said. “Children are different than adults; you always think how you will respond ahead of time and assess the scene. With children, you want to make sure you reassure them we are going to help them. You want the parents there to help reassure them as well.”
Bonds said that while he appreciaties those who thanked emergency personnel for their response, emergency personnel is always there to help.
“We are here to help others and that’s our job,” he said.