First Posted: 3/4/2009
A 28-year-old woman was killed instantly when she collided with a brush truck from Four Way Volunteer Fire Department Wednesday afternoon on Quaker Road. Her 3-year-old son Levi Willard was pinned in the vehicle and was airlifted to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center with a fractured leg.
Her boyfriend, and father of the injured child, Mitchell Dean Willard, was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and driving while impaired after he allegedly rammed a vehicle into a fire truck as he was leaving the scene of the accident. He was not involved in the original accident, but authorities say he became agitated at the accident scene.
Authorities at the scene said Laura Seal, of 158 Joe Reid Trail, was on the way to pick up her 6-year-old son, Willie, at Flat Rock Elementary School when she swerved across the yellow line and hit the fire truck head on. Trooper Robbie Ellison said no charges will be filed in the wreck. The accident was reported at 2:44 p.m.
Ellison said Seal crossed the center line when the driver of the fire truck crossed the center line in order to avoid a collision and to avoid a deep ravine and a concrete culvert to the right of the truck. Ellison said Seal then tried to correct and get back into her lane when the two vehicles collided.
While authorities were on the scene, Mitchell Willard rushed up on the accident and saw Seal still in the drivers seat. Willard was visibly upset and had to be calmed down by several rescuers on the scene. A Surry County deputy was seen escorting Willard to a neighbors vehicle. Moments later, witnesses said he jumped out of the car and got into his sisters vehicle.
Ellison said Willard then allegedly rammed into Franklin Volunteer Fire Departments truck, knocking it into another fire truck from the Bannertown department. Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson said deputies had Willard in custody, but not in handcuffs when he escaped on foot. Willard was at large for hours after he fled the school.
In the initial crash, Four Way Fire Departments chiefs son, William Bruce Crigger Jr., 26, was driving the truck that crashed into the 1992 Ford Explorer Seal was driving. Mount Airy Rescue Squad Member Cory Scarce was the passenger in the truck. Both vehicles were a total loss, Ellison said. Scarce received a broken ankle in the crash, and Crigger, who was first thought to have had a broken pelvis, sustained severe bruising in the crash, the trooper said.
Ellison said first responders heard whimpering behind Seals seat and found her son pinned in the vehicle behind her seat under a speaker and other debris. Ellison said Seal was not wearing a seat belt, and her son was not secured in his child-safety seat. The boy was undergoing surgery to repair his femur late last night.
Before the accident happened, Ellison said, Crigger and Scarce were on their way to the intersection of Westfield and Quaker roads to block traffic for a funeral procession. Scarce was heard calling for help over the radio after the fire truck collided with Seals vehicle. The men were taken by ambulance to Northern Hospital of Surry County and released last night.
The funeral procession for Franklin Firefighter Dennis Denny Faw, 41, who passed away on Sunday, was rerouted due to the wreck. The procession left Calvary Baptist Church on Franklin Road headed for Midkiff Cemetery, also on Quaker Road. Since Faw was a member of the Franklin VFD, the funeral processional included many fire trucks, county vehicles and Mount Airy police cars.
Later in the evening, Sheriff Graham Atkinson said that Willard was driven to the magistrates office Wednesday night to turn himself in. He was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of disorderly conduct disrupting a funeral procession and one count of injury to real property.
Trooper Stan White, who responded to the accident involving the fire trucks in the funeral procession, charged Willard with driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. For the charges from the sheriffs office, Willard was placed under a $20,000 bond. For the highway patrol charges, he was placed under a $2,000 bond. He is being held in the Surry County Jail.
Atkinson said Willards and Seals 6-year-old son was with family members Wednesday night.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.