PINDALL — One man was killed and several people injured in a head-on crash involving a pickup truck, a car and a church bus, according to authorities.
The State Police reports Ronald Battershell, 67, of Marshall was fatally injured and the driver and all of the passengers on the church van were transported to various hospitals.
The Arkansas State Police reports the wreck happened at 11:18 a.m. Thursday on Highway 65 south one mile south of Pindall in Searcy County.
Trooper Rinks said the wreck involved:
• A 2003 Hyundai Elantra driven by Rita A. Miller, 29, of Marshall. Neither she nor a passenger in her vehicle, Gabriel James Miller, 3, were injured.
• A 2010 Chevrolet Colorado truck driven by Battershell.
• 2004 Ford van driven by Ralph Wacaster, 68, of Hot Springs
The bus, from the Center Fork Baptist Church in Hot Springs, was carrying 19 people to an outing in Branson. Danny Williams said he was riding “shotgun” next to driver, Wachester. According to Williams, the light pickup was traveling south, followed by the car.
He said the impact spun the truck, causing it to end up perpendicular to the highway in a ditch in front of Hilltop Upholstery. The bus ended up in the yard of the business, and the car stopped in the opposite ditch several dozen yards away.
Williams credited the bus’s airbags for saving both his life and Wachester’s. He said Wachester had air bag burns and possibly a broken leg.
The driver of the truck was dead at the scene.
Rick Baker, owner of Hilltop Upholstery, was working in his building just a few yards away when the accident happened.
“I heard it and I knew right away,” he said. “I grabbed the phone and called 911.”
Baker went on to say that he could immediately see the severity of the accident.
“I knew the guy in the truck was hurt,” he said.
As Baker talked with the 911 operator, he shouted to the people on the bus, trying to determine how many were injured. He said one woman appeared to be unconscious and several others had less serious injuries.
The young woman who drove the car appeared uninjured, but she declined to comment, saying she was concerned about her son.
Following the accident, several of the Center Fork Baptist members sat in the yard as paramedics from North Arkansas Regional Medical Center tended to them. Baker opened his building, allowing victims to use his restroom.
Williams said two vans were coming up from Hot Springs to pick up the church members.
Church members were eventually loaded into an NARMC ambulance and taken to the hospital. Harrison Fire Department chief Marc Lowery was unsure of the number of injuries.
“A bunch; that’s all I know,” he said.
Searcy County sheriff Kenny Cassell was the first law enforcement official on the scene. Also arriving were the Arkansas State Police, the National Park Service and the Harrison Fire Department.
Harrison 65 was restricted to one lane for a couple of hours as officials cleaned up the accident scene.
Trooper Rinks said the investigation is continuing and charges are pending.
Passengers on the bus, all from Hot Springs and all injured, include Danny Williams, Billy Jones, Shirley Jones, Danny Williams, Win Williams, Kay Spurlin, Helen Worley, Norma Merredith, Joetta Morgan, Pam Spurlin, Avon Edmonson, Phillip Halbert, Dorris Wacaster, Emma Leadbetter, Jimmie Lou Fisher, Buddy Black, Laverne Black, Ken Castleberry and Judy Castleberry.