Staff and students were still shaken a day after a semi-truck barreled into a private Christian school near Watford City, but thankful there were no deaths or serious injuries at the school.
"Five minutes earlier and we'd have lost almost all of our student body," said Adrian Timmons, the administrator at Johnson Corners Christian Academy. "The elementary had just walked out the door to go to recess and the high school was at lunch."
According to the Highway Patrol, the accident happened shortly after noon Monday when the Power Fuels semi-truck driven by Jason Owen, 36, of Watford City, went through the school following a two-car crash at the intersection of Highways 23 and 73 that left Althea Mandan, 65, of Dickinson, the driver of the car, dead.
AP Photo • The front of a semitrailer is seen after slamming through the west wall of Johnson Corners Christian Academy near Watford City on Monday. Three students and a teacher suffered minor injuries when the semitrailer crashed into the rural school after colliding with a car. The driver of the car was killed.
According to the patrol, Mandan was driving her 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix south on Highway 23 and failed to yield to a semi heading west on Highway 73. After colliding with the car, the semi went up an embankment, through a chain link fence, clipped a school bus and an unattended parked pickup and slammed 60 feet into the school, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Both the semi and the pickup came to rest within the school.
Several students had minor injuries and were treated at McKenzie County Hospital in Watford City. Owens was also injured and treated at McKenzie County Hospital, according to the Highway Patrol.
Timmons said the injuries were mainly cuts and bruises and a little whiplash.
"A lot of emotional trauma I think is going to be the biggest thing," said Timmons, who was working Tuesday to line up a counselor to be on hand when classes at the school resume. Timmons said classes have been canceled for the remainder of the week.
Timmons said the semi went through his office, through two classrooms and through the men's bathroom.
"The building is most likely beyond repair," said Timmons, who said he is working on getting modular classrooms in place at the site that can be used as a temporary school.
It is too soon to say what will be done about rebuilding the school, said Timmons, but he said Power Fuels sent insurance adjusters out immediately and there has been help with the clean-up.
The Christian school has 19 students enrolled at the elementary and high school levels and three credentialed teachers, according to Timmons.
Timmons said a fund will likely be set up to help the school recover. People who want to help can call Timmons at 675-2359.