Parents blame muddy Wayne school lot for student's injuries
Posted February 20
Pikeville, N.C. — 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.