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Woman injured in wreck with tractor trailer
  • Updated

A woman from the Sawmills area was severely injured Thursday morning in a wreck on Connelly Springs Road, the N.C. Highway Patrol said.

Gloria Franklin Killian, 57, of Hickory Nut Ridge Road Beam was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with serious injuries. No other information about her injuries or condition was available.

Killian was driving a white Chevrolet Lumina north about 9:25 a.m. when she veered left of center and struck a tractor-trailer head-on, Trooper F.J. Beam said.

The truck, driven by Grayson Michael Morgan, 23, of Fletcher Mountain Road in Collettsville, then struck a black Toyota 4Runner driven by Gregory Damar Finger, 53, of Beech Tree Road in Zionville that had been going north behind Killian.

Lloyd Robbins, who owns a car lot near where the wreck happened, said he heard the collision.

“I checked on the boy in the tractor-trailer first, and he said he was all right, and I was on the phone with the sheriff’s office, and I looked down and saw the black Toyota sitting in the road, and they said they were all right,” he said.

Robbins then went to the Lumina, which was demolished. Killian was pinned inside, her bleeding head against the windshield.

“Her left foot was sticking out of the side of the vehicle. (The wreck) tore the side off so much,” he said. “And the motor was back almost up against her. The steering wheel was mashed against her. The top was mashed down on her. I hate it for her. I hope she pulls through it.”

He said he went to her, held the glass off of her, and prayed with her.

“She was in and out. She came to enough to tell me her name. She started saying, ‘I want to go home,’ ” Robbins said. He told her emergency workers were coming to help her.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

COVID COACHING: Schedules, guidelines challenge coaches preparing for seasons

With the start date for high school sports pushed back to November, the compression of the schedules coupled with social-distancing guidelines is changing how teams prepare for their seasons.

And a significant factor coaches are worried about is injury to players. Another is how the current limits on practice get in the way of athletes’ learning.

Basketball practice begins Dec. 7 with the first games being played on Jan. 4; the first round of the state basketball tournament is Feb. 23, and the state-championship games are being played on March 6.

For football, there are 18 days between the first practice on Feb. 8 and the first game on Feb. 26. The third round of the state basketball tournament is scheduled for Feb. 27. Hibriten Athletics Director Derek Reeves, who is the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, said it’s possible that basketball players who play football could be working on both sports at the same time and the Panthers’ coaches are cooperating in what is sure to be a period of high stress as basketball’s crunch time runs well into the start of football.

“All of our coaches are working well together,” he said. “We’re going to have overlapping seasons, and we’re going to have a real good basketball team. They may be going to football practice (after school) and playing a basketball game that evening.”

With those seasons overlapping, South Caldwell’s Jeff Parham expects there will be athletes who play all three and will begin to feel the effects of the seasons running into each other.

“We have three-sport athletes who play basketball and football, and they play baseball,” he said. “I mean, boom, boom, boom. You know how it is when you practice for the first time and you’re sore. You see it in the (National Football League) and the injuries.”

The difficulty of transitioning from helmets and shorts in practice to live game situations, particularly in football, is challenging. The NFL eliminated its preseason games and limited contact in training camp because of the pandemic, and that has been seen as a factor in the number of injuries. As of Thursday, there are 60 NFL players listed on injured reserve who have had their seasons ended because of knee injuries.

Coaches are mindful of injuries, and they’re also thinking about how to get their teams ready to play once their seasons begin, especially with strict rules in place on physical distancing.

West Caldwell’s Stephen McMasters, who is the Warriors’ athletics director and girls basketball coach, said their preseason workouts thus far have consisted of a lot of conditioning and skill drills but not much scrimmage because of social distancing. He said the conditioning phase of their offseason workouts is complete, and they need to work on learning the system. That means going live, and that is not easy when there’s a mandatory buffer between bodies.

“There are a lot of things we need to do knowing our basketball season is starting in a couple of months, and there are only so many things you can do when you’re six feet apart,” he said. “When you can’t have any sort of close contact, running lines and those sorts of things present a problem. We need to get them where they’re working on those sport-specific things.”

McMasters said he feels like some decisions regarding social distancing on the court are going to have to be made before long. How are students going to be six feet apart and wearing masks all day long and then going nose to nose in practice after school? With different sets of rules in play, the situation is muddled. It doesn’t appear it will clarify any time soon as North Carolina will remain in Phase 3 for three more weeks, and COVID-19 is showing signs of the fall surge officials were concerned about earlier this summer.

It doesn’t make the task of preparing a team for a season any easier because part of the day is spent in an extremely controlled environment and the other part isn’t.

“The rules and regulations inside a school during the day that the state of North Carolina has given and the ones (that apply) when that (dismissal) bell rings in the afternoon don’t 100% line up,” he said. “It kind of makes you scratch your head a little bit. I just don’t see how separate rules from the same people line up.”

7 test positive at Shaire Center
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Seven people have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a nursing home in Lenoir, county officials said in a press release.

The outbreak is the second at the Shaire Center. The first, in August, consisted of four cases.

Jason Haire, the facility’s administrator, could not be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.

“Staff at the facility continue to work closely with the Caldwell County Health Department to adhere to CDC and NCDHHS guidelines and to minimize exposure,” the press release said.

Paige Counts, the county’s information officer, said she did not know whether the cases involve staff or people living at the facility.

Forty-nine new COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday. Six of the people who tested positive are under the age of 17; eight are between 18 and 24; 15 are between 25 and 49; nine are between 50 and 64; eight are between 65 and 74; and three patients are over 75.

Sixteen county residents are currently hospitalized to be treated for the virus. Eleven are at Caldwell Memorial Hospital. The rest are at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge in Morganton, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte.

The county has had a total of 2,307 confirmed cases, and 777 of the cases are considered active. Thirty county residents have died from the virus.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Ambulance driver cited in wreck
  • Updated

The driver of an ambulance has been cited in a wreck that happened early last week on U.S. 321 in Granite Falls, the Granite Falls Police Department said.

Logan Ray Legg, 19, of Premiar Road in Granite Falls was charged with a stop light violation, Chief Chris Jenkins said.

Legg was driving the ambulance south about 8:45 p.m. Oct. 12 when he struck a 2007 Toyota pickup that was turning left from Pinewood Road to go north on U.S. 321.

After that, the ambulance struck a tractor-trailer that was stopped in the turn lane to turn left onto Pinewood Road, Jenkins said.

Although he had his lights and sirens on, Legg, who was taking a patient to the hospital, was cited because he did not stop or slow down to make sure he could proceed through the intersection safely, Jenkins said.

“By running that lights and siren, we were saying, ‘Hey we need to get through the interactions and we need to run faster than the speed limit to get this person to the hospital.’ But you have to do so safely and also have to yield to others on the road getting through the intersections,” Jenkins said.

The driver of the pickup, Tex Helms, 54, of H&H Lane in the Sawmills area, and the driver of the tractor-trailer, Danny Lee Tipton, 54, of Old N.C. 18 in Morganton, reported no injuries, Jenkins said.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.