WATFORD CITY, N.D. – A car and semi collided east of here Monday, killing one driver and sending the semitrailer through a small Christian school while class was in session.
Three young children and a teacher from the Johnson Corners Christian Academy were treated and released at a hospital, Capt. Alan Billehus of the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.
The Highway Patrol said the semitrailer was westbound on Highway 73 when a car headed south on Highway 23 failed to yield to the semi at the intersection in McKenzie County.
The truck struck the car and both vehicles ran off the roadway, authorities said.
The truck continued through the ditch, struck a chain link fence and entered the Christian Academy parking lot. The semi then struck an unattended school bus and an unattended pickup. The semi pushed the pickup and drove into the school.
“It drove into the school about 60 feet,” said Billehus.
The crash happened before 12:30 p.m. when class was in session. Several students were injured, the Highway Patrol said.
The woman driving the car died as a result of injuries in the initial crash, the Highway Patrol said.
The man driving the semitrailer suffered injuries, authorities said. Names were not released pending the notification of family members.
Billehus said the Highway Patrol continues to investigate.
Torrie Adams, a graduate of the school who attends the Johnson Corners Wesleyan Church that is attached to the school, was at the scene shortly after the crash happened and took photos.
“You kind of look at it and go wow. How fast was it going to have ended up there?” Adams said.
Adams said the area the truck entered is the office of the principal, who happened to be gone Monday.
“If he’d had been in his office, he’d have been killed,” she said.
Adams said the K-12 school had about 60 students when she graduated in 1998, but has fewer students today. About 50 members regularly church services there, she said.
“It’s a bad intersection and they drive too fast, all of them do,” Adams said. “There’s a lot of very careless driving around here.”
Megan Pennington, who lives east of Watford City, drove by the crash right after it happened and before first responders arrived.
Pennington also said that intersection has had a history of accidents.
“Every time I see one I think that’s the worst wreck I’ve ever seen,” Pennington said. “I’m pretty sure this is the worst wreck I’ve ever seen.”
Check back for more photos.