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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nine injured in Sidney wreck

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Two vehicles carrying six children and three adults collided head-on Aug. 4 in Sidney after rounding a blind corner on St. Paul Road resulting in injuries to all nine passengers.

One of the drivers, Julie Garcia, 28, of Evening Shade, and Billy Cowan of Melbourne, a passenger in the second vehicle driven by his wife, Phyllis Cowan, were transported by Air Evac Life Team to White River Medical Center.

Cowan was treated at WRMC for broken ribs and a fractured vertebrae. His wife said he is now in a back brace.

Garcia continued via helicopter to Central Arkansas Hospital in Searcy. She broke her right leg in three places and was badly bruised from the deployment of the air bag, said Sharp County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Joe Stidman, who investigated the accident.

Phyllis Cowan said her left foot is in a cast due to two broken bones in her ankle, the right heel is crushed and her left clavical bone was broken.

"I have one good arm and no good feet," joked Cowan, who was released from WRMC August 8.

The Cowans own Bread of Life Christian bookstore in Melbourne.

The accident occurred when a 1995 Ford Aerostar van driven by Garcia and a 1996 Jeep Cherokee driven by Cowan collided on a curve on St. Paul Road about 2.8 miles south of Highway 58 around 12:20 p.m.

According to Stidman, both drivers told him their view was obstructed by trees and bushes growing along the west side of the narrow road.

Stidman estimated the vehicles were traveling at about 35 miles per hour when they collided, bouncing back about 5 feet each after impact.

Cowan said she was driving up a hill and going into the curve and saw Garcia's car only at the time of impact.

"The roads are so narrow, there's no way two vehicles can pass safely without one pulling over," said Cowan.

Stidman said he and Sharp County deputy Joey Qualls measured the road width at 14 feet, 3 inches wide. Vehicles like those involved are about 7 feet wide, he said.

No citations were issued.

The Cowans' three grandchildren -- Katelyn Cowan, 5, and Ashton Cowan, 23 months, both of Melbourne, and Caleb Cowan, 10, of Harrison -- were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Katelyn Cowan suffered the most serious injuries of the children, said Cowan.

Katelyn Cowan was transported to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock for internal bleeding. She had part of her intestines removed and her colon repaired, said Cowan. She was released Aug. 11, according to a spokesman at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Ashton Cowan was also admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital with a bump on her head and burns due to the restraining straps. She was treated and released, said Cowan. Caleb Cowan escaped serious injury.

Riding with Garcia were her three children, Jessica, 4, Linda, 2, and 10-month-old AJ.

According to Stidman, the children in both vehicles were properly restrained in infant and toddler safety seats or were wearing seat belts.

Stidman said wearing seat belts and properly securing the children minimized the injuries.

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