Care center crash impacts many in the Alcester community

Published: Jul. 24, 2017 at 4:49 PM CDT
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Monday morning a car crashed into a group of people and a brick wall at a nursing home facility in Alcester, killing two people and injuring six others.

An investigation by the South Dakota Highway Patrol revealed the 81-year-old driver accidentally hit the gas instead of hitting the brakes.

The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. at the Alcester Care and Rehab Center. Two hospital helicopters came to the scene—one from Sioux Falls and one from Sioux City. Ambulances were also dispatched from Alcester, Beresford, Vermillion, Ireton, IA, and Hawarden, IA.

As soon as community members learned of the crash this morning, many people rushed to the care center to see if their loved ones were ok.

“All of us were trying to touch out to family members, asking are you ok? And of course we weren't getting answers back right away,” Alcester resident Shaleen Allen said.

A large portion of the small community either lives or works in the care center.

“It’s a big part of the community,” Mayor Thomas Glas said. “Most of the people that get to that age come to this; everyone loves this nursing home.”

“All of our family members live in that building, all of our friends work in that building, there isn't a person in Alcester that isn't connected to this at one point or another,” Allen said.

It’s why there were many tearful faces outside the crash site Monday.

“We're heartbroken,” Allen said.

“It’s horrible,” South Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Jason Husby said. “Especially the situation we have here where there's a group of people; a lot of people are affected by this.”

People in Alcester say on a normal morning, the area in front of the building would have been pretty much empty, but with Monday’s mild temperatures, many residents came out in front of the building to do their morning exercises.

“They normally exercise indoors, so it was a bad struck of luck or fate or whatever it is, that they decided to come outside and enjoy the nice cool air and this happened,” Allen said.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol has not released the names of those involved but did stress that this was an accident.

“Based on our investigation including information with some witnesses, it definitely appears to be an unintentional incident,” Captain Husby said.

Captain Husby says the 81-year-old female driver was among the injured.

“My heart aches for the lady driving the car, my heart breaks for everyone else around this,” Allen said.

“I know the community will come together,” Mayor Glas said. “Everyone is praying and it’s just a sad thing.”

Authorities say the care facility has notified the families of everyone involved, but they are not releasing any names at this time.

They say the six people injured were taken to hospitals in Hawarden, Sioux City and Sioux Falls; some of them have already been treated and released.