5 still hospitalized after awning collapse at NC high school

The remains of a concrete canopy that collapsed sit in front of North Iredell High School on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Olin, N.C. A box truck hit one of the canopy supports and the awning then fell on a group of band students. (AP Photo/Skip Foreman)

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Five high school students are still in the hospital, two days after a large box truck ran into concrete canopy at the school during a band competition.

The incident happened at North Iredell High School Saturday afternoon. WBTV learned that, in total, 25 people had to be taken to area hospitals after a part of the building collapsed. Some students were temporarily trapped in the collapse.

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As of Monday, four students were still at Carolinas Medical Center, in Charlotte. A fifth student is still being treated at Baptist Hospital.

Students who were there during the collapse are being credited for taking adult roles. South Iredell School Superintendent Dr. Grady Johnson is giving students high marks for pitching in.

“The true first responders to this accident were the kids themselves,” Johnson said. “They were there rendering first aid to their friends. Trying to help in any way they could before the grownups got there.”

“It took a while to lift the rubble off of them, remove the rubble off of them, because some of them were deep under it,” a witness told WBTV Saturday.

Timothy Carroll, a South Iredell Freshman, witnessed calm turn into chaos in the blink of an eye.

“We thought it was thunder or something. It crumbled down in about, maybe a half a second to a second, or so. Really no time to react. But some people were fast enough to get out of the way,” Timothy said.

Iredell County EMS said the injuries ranged from minor to life threatening, and sources said that “all on duty and off duty paramedics” were called to the scene.

Timothy’s mom, Tammy, was also there and described the incident as a terrible accident.

“It was a horrible incident, but you can’t blame any one person. It was nobodies fault, no single person,” Tammy said.

As of Sunday night, a GoFundMe page had been set up by a student who says she is the drum major at South Iredell High School where many of the injured attend school.

The fundraising page says the money raised will help families with medical expenses and help pay for a new band trailer to be dedicated to the injured. The page says several students have broken bones, head injuries and that one student had to have her leg amputated.

Timothy visited five of his friends in the hospital on Sunday. He said despite the circumstances, they are all in good spirits.

“It definitely relieved me some because I did not sleep well, Saturday night,” Timothy said.

The page’s author asks for students to wear white to school Monday and write “Band Strong” on their arm to show support.

Superintendent Grady Johnson says it’s a time for healing. Services are being carried out on local campuses to remember those who were injured.

Onna Terry is a South Iredell senior.

“You walk around and everyone wore white for it today, and you can tell that they were all being there for each other,” she said.

Gloria Midget had a loved one in harm’s way, and unhurt.

“My granddaughter was there for the band competition, and it just terrified me. She called the house. She was really upset,” Midget said.

Officials say the driver who hit the awning ignored the warning for trucks and at South Iredell there is a similar structure.

Superintendent Johnson says because of Saturday’s accident this awning has been inspected by an engineer as well.

“The structure is sound. It is slated to be replaced in a few years,” he said.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues.

A trooper with the North Carolina Highway Patrol is scheduled to meet with Iredell County district attorney to determine if charges will be filed against the driver in the case.

The names and ages of those injured have not been released.

According to the school’s website, SATs and the band competition were both happening at the high school.

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