Neighbors In Shock After Fatal Alcester Crash
"It's something that you just never would think would happen, that's the sad part”
ALCESTER, S.D. – Monday morning’s fatal crash is still sinking in for those who live 45 minutes south of Sioux Falls. With a population of only 800, many never expected something like this to happen in their small town.
In Alcester, the sound of birds chirping and the occasional thump of construction, are what neighbors are used to.
“It’s pretty calm,” says Darla Reppe.
What they aren’t used to, is hearing sirens.
“I was downtown in fact when I heard the police go by quickly,” says Reppe.
The unfamiliar sound caught everyone’s attention.
“I was working in my yard when I heard the sirens, so I kind of checked to see what was going on,” says Steve Johannsen.
Along with the sight of the tragedy unfolding.
“Something bad had to happen,” explains Reppe. “I mean, when you see that many ambulance and then the two air helicopters coming in, we knew it was something bad.”
The news spread fast — two people dead and six others hurt in a crash at the Alcester Care and Rehab Center.
“It’s something that you just never would think would happen, that’s the sad part,” says Reppe.
“Everybody knows everyone else, and it’s hard for everybody who lives in Alcester,” adds Johannsen.
Many have connections to the nursing home.
“My father was there for quite a few months so I know a lot of the staff, I recognize staff, I recognize the car just because I’ve been there,” says Reppe. “It just made you feel bad. You could see people crying.”
While others, like Johannsen, who is a former Alcester volunteer firefighter, are feeling for those who had to respond to the accident.
“Working as hard as you can to help these people that you probably know and working with other departments that are coming into help, it’s just stressful,” explains Johannsen.
But there is some light.
“We can get through this,” says Johanssen.
The town is known for bouncing back.
“The support will be there. Alcester is very good at that,” says Reppe. “It’s just something we never expected.”
ALCESTER – South Dakota Highway Patrol officials say the investigation into Monday’s fatal crash in Alcester continues to indicate that the incident was unintentional.
Two people were killed and six others were injured when a vehicle ran into Alcester Care and Rehab Center, hitting seven people who were coming out of the building. The group was a mixture of center employees and residents. The driver was also injured.
An 81-year-old woman, driving a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, had pulled into a driveway area near the building when witnesses say the driver unintentionally stepped on the gas instead of the brakes, sending the car into the building.
Names of the eight people involved have not yet been released. The female driver is one of the six that were injured. The injured were taken to hospitals in Hawarden, Iowa; Sioux City, Iowa; and Sioux Falls. Some of the injured have already been treated and released.
Highway Patrol officials say will likely take several days to complete.