Car crashes into Vina school
By Lauren Wester
Vina High School received a shock Aug. 13. At approximately 2:15 p.m., a white Chevrolet Equinox crashed into the back of one of the classroom buildings.
The point of contact was the outside wall of first grade teacher Monyca Guinn’s classroom. Guinn happened to be in the room when the crash occurred.
“I came over after church to catch up on some things, and not long after that it happened,” she said.
Guinn said she heard a loud boom and thought it was an explosion. She dropped to the floor and hid under her desk. When she thought it was safe again, she peeked over her desk and saw the white car outside the window.
Guinn said she then went to find her coworker, who she knew was also on the campus, Lisa Franklin.
Franklin teaches sixth grade at Vina and was in the process of moving things out of her old classroom when the car struck. She said she didn’t hear the crash, but her children and husband who were helping her did.
“I went outside and saw debris trailing down the hill toward the crash scene and immediately ran back inside to call the police,” Franklin said.
Guinn said she found Franklin just as she was making her way back to her classroom to make the call. Franklin called law enforecement as well as Vina principal James Pharr, board member Pat Cochran and Superintendent Greg Hamilton. Cochran and Pharr came to the school shortly thereafter.
State trooper Mitch Mitchell was one of the first responders, as well as the Vina Rescue Squad and other officers. They were already on the scene when Pharr arrived.
Pharr said he stayed inside and out of the way until the car’s driver and passenger, a husband wife couple by the name of Emerson, had been cleared from the scene, and then he helped put the air conditioning unit and bricks back in place in the wall as best as he could.
“We’ve been blessed that no faculty was hurt, and we just hope that the Emersons are OK,” Pharr said.
Officials have yet to release the official cause of the accident, but from what witnesses and school personnel have been able to piece together, it is believed that the driver, Joseph Emerson, had some sort of episode that caused him to black out or lose coherence. His wife Sue supposedly attempted to pull his foot off of the accelerator after she noticed he was no longer in control.
Sue reportedly sustained a broken rib and a few of her teeth were knocked out, according to Franklin. Franklin said the couple’s airbags had not deployed and that Joseph was not entirely coherent when she and Guinn were trying to help them out of the car.
First responders were able to get the pair safely out of the vehicle and onto stretchers, and they were reportedly released from the hospital that night, according to Franklin.
Repairs are underway at the school. The guard rails the car went through have already been replaced, a new air conditioning unit has been put in Guinn’s room and structural engineers are in the process of determining the best way to repair the broken wall, Pharr said.