Local News

Parents blame muddy Wayne school lot for student's injuries

Posted February 20, 2014

— A 6-year-old student was injured Wednesday in a muddy school parking lot at Northwest Elementary School in Pikeville, prompting some parents to call for the lot to be paved.

Marsha Kay Garland, 62, of Ankeny, Iowa, was picking up her grandchildren after school in a borrowed Ford pickup and got stuck in the mud as she backed out of her parking space, the State Highway Patrol said. She then stepped on the gas, accelerating backward out of muddy patch at 20 mph, and slammed into four vehicles parked nearby.

Annabella Willard wound up pinned between a car and her family's SUV. She suffered a lacerated liver, a punctured lung and a broken pelvis and was being treated at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Two parents and another student also were hurt in the crash, troopers said.

Debbie Fabing, 54, suffered a hip injury when she was pinned between two vehicles, and Anita Jean Fox, 28, was thrown several feet when she was hit by her parked SUV in the chain-reaction collision. The second student was inside one of the vehicles involved in the crash.

David Lewis, a spokesman for Wayne County Public Schools, said the muddy lot was never designed for parking. It once was a grassy spot in front of the school, but it became a de facto parking area as the school expanded and needed more space for parents and visitors.

Parents said that, anytime it rains, the lot becomes a mud pit.

"It would help if they would pave it or either put some gravel on it," Margaret Gurley said.

"If they had the money to pave it, that would be great, but at least level all the potholes out and put some rock in or something," Chad Daughtry said.

Daughtry added, however, that "for an experienced driver, it's really not that bad."

The school district roped off the area Thursday to keep people from parking there. Lewis said it was more to allow the lot to dry out than to make the area off limits permanently.

"At this point, I think it's too early to speculate what might happen in the future with that area," he said.

Garland was charged with careless and reckless driving.


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  • Jump1 Feb 21, 2014

    Not the parking lot problem the drivers was careless.

  • leaannbo Feb 21, 2014

    This was an accident waiting to happen. The parents have been asking for years for this visitor lot to be paved. And to whoever asked if the schools permed this lot, that would be a yes

  • Karen Orndorff Feb 21, 2014
    user avatar

    Okay they are building new schools in other counties with the lottery money, why can't they pave a parking lot?

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Feb 21, 2014

    Blame the woman who backed her vehicle into the child. Do we know if the school even own that land?

  • pipcolt Feb 21, 2014

    Do people not have a brain any more. Has society evolved to the point that they depend on other entities to do the thinking for them. If you needed to get to the other side of the river would you drive through it to get there and when you don't make, it blame somebody else?
    There may not be any hope for human kind with the way people are thinking today or should I said not thinking, and the not thinking people are a danger to others around them and on the streets.

  • Don Dickerson Feb 21, 2014
    user avatar

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    Good Morning, Scuba! Actually, it's not even "the parents" "blaming" the lot, or school or anything like that. Only the title headline "blames" anything or anyone! It will be interesting, though, to see if anyone goes after the county, or considers it enough to fix it now that this has happened. Certainly granny from Iowa should not be invited to pick up the littl'uns anymore, and whoever loaned her the truck will long remember a few basic rules about who to loan a vehicle to (might even outlast the higher premiums!). I think it looks like she's the one at fault here, and the school can claim that when all present decided to park in such an unimproved area that they all assumed a risk and responsibility to watch for themselves and others. The school would be wise to not let it happen again, though.

  • ytb781pearl Feb 21, 2014

    The blame should be placed on the person driving the vehicle, not on the parking lot. I suppose the ones placing blame see more dollar signs from the county rather than the one truly at fault.

  • amiedaughtry Feb 21, 2014

    Why are kids walking in the parking lot with moving vehicles? My daughter's school does not allow parents to park and get out, you must go through the car line and your child is brought to your vehicle. NO EXCEPTIONS. If you need to pick up your child from the office it has to be done before 2:30.

  • Life-goes-on. Feb 21, 2014

    So, a 62 year old woman driving a borrowed pickup gets stuck in a lot that isn't a parking lot, that she knew was muddy before she parked there, then obviously over accelerates backing into other vehicles and it's the school's fault? Why not blame the pickup or the others for being parked behind her? Surely it has to be someone's fault instead of hers... Don't pay any attention to that little detail that the police charged her with careless and reckless driving. Good grief..

  • workingforthosethatwont Feb 21, 2014

    sounds like aggressive driving on school property to me. if that had been a student they would have been arrested.