A tragic accident at the intersection of Ebby Road and US Route 50 on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., claimed the lives of three people, two Grafton High School (GHS) Students and a former GHS student, and sent seven other people to area hospitals.
According to police reports, a four-door Saturn sedan, carrying three GHS students and one former student, lost control on Route 50 and struck a Dodge Caravan heading in the opposite direction at the intersection of Ebby road. The sedan caught fire, and was fully engulfed in flame with the three victims inside. The driver of the sedan is in critical condition, two of the passengers were pronounced dead on the scene, and the third fatality occurred in the burn unit at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Six people in the Caravan were transported by ground to the Grafton City Hospital.
Taylor County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Terring Skinner came upon the scene on his way home from a trip to the beach. Skinner, Dennis Peters, and Travis Zimmerman (Pruntytown Correctional Center employees) worked diligently to free the victims from their seatbelts as the car quickly went up in flames.
Peters and Zimmerman were on their way back to Grafton on their motorcycles when they came upon the scene. The three men worked to free the victims receiving burns themselves, even after emergency crews arrived..
GHS has been providing counselors at the school since Monday. The following is a statement issued Monday morning by Taylor County Superintendent of Schools, J. Diane Watt.
“Taylor County Schools has a crisis management plan that is already in effect. It included a debriefing early this morning (Monday) with the GHS staff, a team of counselors who were briefed early this morning and who are remaining available to students during the school day, and early notification to Taylor County staff who communicate with our students such as bus drivers. This is a very difficult time for our students, staff, and community and it is our goal to be present for all those during this terrible event.”
GHS will continue to offer counseling through the week.
The Grafton Fire Department set up a landing zone on the bridge in Thornton for the two medical helicopters that transported the driver of the sedan and one passenger to the hospital. Thornton Volunteer Fire Department, Fellowsville Volunteer Fire Department, Taylor County Emergency Squad, Mountaineer EMS, Flemington EMS, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police, and the West Virginia Division of Highways, were all on the scene.
Route 50 was closed to traffic until 11:30 p.m. The West Virginia Department of Public Safety, Accident Reconstruction Unit responded as well.