HAYWOOD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA - At least one person and one horse are dead after a truck hit a wagon train in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
According to The Mountaineer newspaper, a Ford Ranger hit the back of the wagon train around noon Friday, causing multiple injuries to people and horses. The wagon train crosses Haywood County every year over Labor Day.
There are multiple injuries to both individuals and equine, including a child, according to eyewitnesses.
One man was taken to the hospital and is reported in critical condition.
One horse was taken to receive veterinary care for serious injuries to its hind leg, and another was put down at the scene due to its injuries.
The crash happened in front of the Pride Resort on Johnathan Creek Road in Maggie Valley. A couple staying at the resort said they saw a horse thrown over the guardrail when it was hit by a man driving a late model Ford Ranger. That horse was put down on the spot.
"When I saw it, that man in the white truck was still moving after he hit it," Karan told The Mountaineer. "People were flying and one horse was pinned against the rail."
She described the driver as a tall, slender man in his late 20s or 30s, and said he was overheard on his phone telling someone that he had just ran into a trailer with some horses. The Goins said he sounded "out of it" and didn't seem super-panicked about what had happened.
Tim, who served as an Army medic, immediately began helping the young boy who was calling for his papaw. He saw one man trapped under the truck and another injured man who was out in the road.
David Coen and his wife, Brenda, of Beantown, were two of the first people to come upon the accident scene.
"We saw one horse near the guardrail and two more in the middle of the road and just wood everywhere," David said.
The man who died at the scene was in the middle of the road and emergency personnel were giving him CPR, he added. The child, who Coen estimated was 8 or 9, was among those taken to the hospital.
Multiple emergency responders and veterinarians were at the accident scene caring for the victims.
Each Labor Day weekend up to 18 wagons and an extra 20 or so horses gather together for a cross-county ride, which is concluded with participation in the Canton Labor Day parade.
Wagon train members are a tight-knit family. In the immediate aftermath of the crash they were visibly shaken.
Many walked up and down the line of wagons hugging, crying and praying together.
"Wagon train people are like family. We stick together in times like these. I just can't understand how this happened," said Chris Owen, whose wagon was about mid-way down the line of 11 wagons and carts.
One driver said the group had a police escort with them until shortly before the crash occurred.
Wagon train drivers said the collision was enormous. One said it sounded like a bomb went off.
"I just wish that people would think more carefully about how they drive. Pay attention to your surroundings and slow down," said Owen.