Leader Blues

Monday, September 24, 2007

TOP STORY >>Two die as driver goes wrong way

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Two were killed and three were injured in a three-vehicle collision Thursday night north of Jacksonville when a woman drove onto the wrong side of the freeway reportedly somewhere in White County and ran head on into a pickup driven by members of a Texas church group on their way to northeast Arkansas where they were building a church.

Candace J. Hazlatt, 58, of 64 Stonewall Drive, Jacksonville, and Amanda K. Barfield, 32, 101 Jamie Drive, Whitehouse, Texas, were killed in the collision.

Barfield’s husband William, also 32 and, Bradley D. Jordon, 37, 201 Eastgate, Whitehouse, Texas, the driver of the pickup, were injured.

Jacqueline L. Harris, 47, 110 Dean Street, Searcy, a nursing instructor on her way home from late shift clinicals who was driving behind Jordon also was injured.

Seven of Harris’ students who were ahead of her on the freeway escaped injury, but the driver of one of the two cars they were in had to swerve off the road near Austin to avoid being hit head on.

State Police say it is not known why Hazlatt was driving south in the northbound lane on Hwy. 67-167.

Test results for alcohol and drugs will not be available for about a week.

Hazlatt’s husband George Hazlatt, said he was not aware of any medical condition that would have caused his wife to be unaware that she was driving on the wrong side of the road but that she did take several medications including Zanax, which is prescribed for anxiety.

The vehicles collided at 11:20 p.m. in the northbound lane near the liquor stores just outside Cabot in Pulaski County.

Nursing student Jesaca McCartney, of Beebe, said Hannah Plexico, the driver of the car she was riding in had time to move over and avoid hitting the car driven by Hazlatt.

“We moved over and she zoomed past us,” McCartney said. “We came within inches of being sideswiped because when we got over we were behind another car and the rear end was still over in the other lane a little. We called 911 and they were already aware of it.”

McCartney said the nursing students who were ahead of them in traffic were not injured when driver Sarah Peel was forced off the road. Nursing classes were canceled Friday at Harding University.

Brenda Westphall, secretary to the pastor of Southern Oaks Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, the church that Barfields and Jordan attended, said they had been helping build a church in Alicia, Arkansas for about six months.

Alicia is in Laurence County between Newport and Walnut Ridge.

The congregation had outgrown their small building so Southern Oaks members had volunteered to provide most of the labor to build a new one, Westphall said.

“This was their last trip. They took the steeple and doors,” she said. “There were 16 or 18 of them. About half were already up there and the rest were going up last night.”

In Whitehouse, where the Barfields and Jordon lived, City Manager Ronny Fate said the city court opened late to honor Amanda Barfield, who was the court clerk there.

“She was well-liked,” Fate said. “She was quite a gal.”