Christy Owens thought a building was on fire when she and the two men with her came up on what turned out to be a traffic crash that killed a 38-year-old Beaverdale woman and sent her 9-year-old daughter to a Chattanooga hospital with serious injuries.
Owens, who said she knew the child, was with her husband, Derick, taking his cousin, Anthony Owens, to work Wednesday morning when they approached the intersection of Good Hope Road and Beaverdale Road.
“All we could see was the white smoke, and when we got closer we saw that the smoke was coming from the van where the air bag had deployed on the driver’s side,” Christy Owens said.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper 1st Class Stephanie Maddux said the 38-year-old driver of the passenger van, Christy Lynn Wimpey, was coming west from Boyles Mill Road across from Uncle Buck’s General Store. Wimpey didn’t stop at the intersection and the van collided with a commercial dump truck traveling north on Beaverdale Road, Maddux said.
Witnesses said Wimpey was killed almost instantly as the truck, unable to stop, slammed into the driver’s side door. The wreck happened at about 7:45 a.m. The dump truck driver had minor injuries. Maddux said she was told later Wednesday morning the girl is expected to survive. Maddux said neither Wimpey nor her child were wearing seat belts from what she observed.
However, Christy Owens said she saw a seat belt on Wimpey when she went to check on her. The woman had no pulse and was unresponsive, she said. She said they found the little girl crumpled up in the floorboard on the passenger side.
Owens said her husband and his cousin together yanked open the jammed passenger door to get to the child. Owens said her husband helped stabilize the girl’s head until emergency responders arrived in case she had a spinal cord injury. Officials didn’t know the extent of her injuries.
“I hope and pray that she is OK,” Christy Owens said.
Debbie Smith, who owns Uncle Buck’s, said she knew all the people involved in the wreck. She said she was inside when she heard a collision so loud it sounded like something was about to come through the store. Maddux said witnesses said the woman ran the stop sign on Boyles Mill Road, and it appears she wasn’t aware of the oncoming dump truck.
“It was like she didn’t see it,” Smith said. “She just turned right in front of him.”
Smith said Wimpey and her child were on their way to Beaverdale Elementary School, where the girl is a student.
Maddux said speed and distracted driving don’t appear to be factors in the crash.