A Dodge Charger that two Open Campus High School students were in during an accident at the corner of Fayetteville Road and Spring Street is towed away from the scene Wednesday. Officials said a box van may have run a stop sign before it T-boned the charger. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Two Clayton County Open Campus High School students were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center Wednesday after a U-Haul-type box van hit the pupil’s car while they were returning to school.
Three more students were left shaken when they jumped down a hill and landed in a rose bush on Fayetteville Road to avoid the accident. The incident left the intersection of Fayetteville Road and Spring Street closed for about an hour.
School system officials said a Dodge Charger carrying the students was heading southbound on Fayetteville and the pupils were returning to class from their lunch break.
The driver of the van was heading westbound on Spring Street, and school system police Officer Micah Brown said he either ran the stop sign or failed to yield to the car.
The accident happened at about 12:20 p.m.
“The driver of the box van did not stop like he was supposed to and he T-boned the student’s car,” Brown said.
Brown said emergency responders at the scene believed the students injuries were minor although firefighters had to cut the driver-side door off the car to remove the pupil who was driving the car.
Brown said the pupil who was driving the car complained about neck and back pain, so he was taken to the hospital as a precaution. He said the other student who was riding in the car was shaken up and was taken to the hospital as well as a precaution.
One of the students who jumped down the hill said they did not believe the passenger was wearing his seat belt.
“His head hit the windshield,” said Alexus Cooper.
While the accident was taking place, Cooper pulled her friends Brittany Roberson and Denautica Sims away from the road when the truck and the car collided.
Cooper was the only member of the group who saw the accident happen and saw the car being pushed in their direction.
“I wasn’t paying attention and she just grabbed me and we fell down the hill with me landing on top of her and Denautica landing on top of me,” said Roberson.
The trio ended up with scratches on their arms because of the thorns on the rose bush they landed in. The owner of the bush, Vicki Fountain, told the teens that she was just glad they were safe.
“I can replace the rose bushes, but you can’t be replaced,” she said.
The Open Campus High School is located at the Eula Ponds Perry Center for Learning, which is at the corner of Lee and Spring streets. Brown said it is meant as a second chance for some students who struggled in traditional high schools, as well as a place where other students can work to graduate early from high school.
Students at the school are allowed to leave campus for a one-hour lunch break, Brown explained.
Open Campus High School Principal Terry Young came out to the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred and stayed there until it was cleared and the roads were re-opened. Young said he was leaving from there to visit the students in the hospital.
“Luckily nobody was seriously injured,” said Young.
Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson also came by the scene to see how the students were doing.
Young said he was proud of Cooper for grabbing her classmates and pulling them out of harms way. “Human nature took over and that act saved them from possible serious injuries,” he said.
Fountain, meanwhile, is calling on Jonesboro officials to improve safety at that intersection. She said she estimates about four or five accidents happen each month at that intersection and some of them are more serious than what happened Wednesday.
In some cases, she said, cars have ended up driving down the hill and into her back yard or a creek separating her property form the Xpress bus lot on Tara Boulevard.
Drivers traveling on Spring Street must stop at stop signs while travelers on Fayetteville Road have a caution light warning them to slow down.
“That light doesn’t do one bit of good,” Fountain said.
Fountain said the city needs to put a red light or guardrails at the intersection to improve safety. She didn’t see the accident Wednesday, but she heard it from inside her home and wasn’t surprised that it happened.
“When I heard it go boom, I thought ‘Oh no, not again,’” said Fountain. “I’m just glad nobody was killed.”
Brown said this was the first automobile accident Open Campus High School students have been involved in while going to or from the school this year.
School system officials said the driver of the box van was also taken to the hospital but they were not sure what condition he was in. However, his injuries — like those of the two students in the car — are believed to be minor.
It is unclear if anyone involved is facing any charges.