12 Westwood students hurt in hay ride wreck


Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 1:23 a.m.

A dozen Westwood Middle School students were injured Tuesday afternoon when the trailer they were riding on during a hay ride overturned and spilled them onto the road.

The accident happened during a field trip at Camp Crystal Lake in Clay County, said Clay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Mary Justino.

A tractor was pulling a flatbed trailer with railings on the side and 24 students and a teacher on it when the trailer turned over, Justino said.

All the children slid off and landed on each other. A railing came off the side of the trailer and landed on them as well.

A dozen of the students on board were injured. One was airlifted to Shands at Jacksonville, and another was airlifted to Shands at the University of Florida, Justino said.

"They were concerned because the children had head injuries, but they were not life-threatening at all," Justino said.

Paramedics brought the other injured students to area hospitals by ambulance. Most had cuts and bruises, she said.

Teachers had students' permission slips and were able to reach all the injured children's parents by phone, said Mike Gamble, assistant principal at Westwood.

The Sheriff's Office is looking into how the tractor was being driven and how the children were behaving, Justino said. The driver was someone at the camp who is in charge of hay rides, she added.

The students were at the camp, which is run by the Alachua County School Board, for a day trip for seventh-graders, Gamble said.

About 150 Westwood seventh-graders were at the camp today. There were about 10 Westwood staff members and five camp staff members there, Gamble said.

Another group of seventh-graders will go to the camp today, he added.

"Obviously, I do not think there will be a hay ride," Gamble said. "It was a freak, unfortunate thing. I'm just glad the kids are OK."

Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@ gvillesun.com.

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