CREEDMOOR, N.C. (WNCN) — Neighbors heard the loud “bang” on Sunday afternoon and knew something was wrong.
“I thought it was like an explosion,” Kim Mann said.
Jayni Buechler’s family jumped into action after hearing the alarming noise.
“We just ran, threw shoes on, and ran outside,” she said.
What they heard was the sound of a car crash that happened shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday along the 600 block of Woodland Church Road in southern Granville County just northwest of Wake Forest.
Amid rainy conditions, the neighbors came out to find two badly-damaged vehicles, including a minivan with several children inside.
“Everyone grabbed a child, there were four of them,” Buechler said.
Mann added the mother in the van was “pulling glass out of (a) baby’s mouth” just after the crash.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol confirms troopers responded to the wreck with injuries Sunday afternoon. So far investigators have released few details about the wreck.
Neighbors escorted the victims to a nearby home as they waited for first responders. Neighbors say those first responders took about 20 minutes to arrive.
“I’m thinking, ‘Is help coming?’” Mann said.
On Wednesday, Granville County spokesperson Terry Hobgood Jr. told said the response times were 13:07 for the Brassfield VFP (about 5 miles away) and 15:53 for Wilton EMS (10.2 miles away).
“Granville County Commissioners, staff, and Granville Health System EMS strive to ensure that all our residents have access to prompt and professional emergency response, no matter where they live. This goal is an ever-increasing challenge as a rural county with 62,000 residents spread over 536 square miles. Our small population and large geographic footprint make the mutual aid agreements with neighboring emergency responders even more valuable. In any emergency, when the resources of the local district responders are not adequate, we can assure our residents that mutual aid partners (including Wake County) are ready to assist just as we are ready to assist them. During an emergency, every second counts, and we can assure our residents that our elected officials and staff are certainly monitoring how emergency response is being delivered to all parts of Granville County.”Statement issued by Granville County
Concerns over previous response times
As Buechler rushed outside to the scene of the crash, she feared what would happen if any of the victims had significant injuries.
She recalls calling 911 nearly a year ago when her husband suffered a medical emergency. She said it took a half-hour for an ambulance from another part of Granville County to arrive.
“(The dispatcher) said, ‘You have to start CPR or your husband won’t make it – they’re still 15 minutes out,’” Buechler recalls from that April 2021 day.
Her husband did survive, but the memory of waiting – trying to keep him alive – stuck in Buechler’s mind.
“It worries me that when something serious happens, I need to be prepared,” she said.
Calls for more first responders
Neighbors along this stretch of Woodland Church Road tell CBS 17 they would like to see another fire station – with an ambulance – closer to home.
The closest fire station to them – and to the scene of Sunday’s crash – is nearly four miles away. But that station is just over the county line in Wake County, and fire officials in the area tell CBS 17 that crews there only enter Granville County to assist on certain structure fire calls.
In this case, involving a crash, the Wake Forest firefighters would not be responsible for responding.
The next closest fire station to the scene is the Brassfield Fire Department – operated by volunteers.
Brassfield Fire Chief Greg Hockaday tells CBS 17 that ambulances are largely spread out across Granville County.
Neighbors see this as a particular concern, given the population growth in the Wake Forest area.
“We need help,” Mann said. She anticipates more cars will mean more emergencies. “We need to fight for a southern Granville County firehouse with an ambulance.”
Hockaday said he would like to construct an additional fire station, but finding land and funds is a challenge – not to mention staffing the station. Still, he told CBS 17, he’d like to see steps taken in the county to “make sure that this end is covered.”
CBS 17 reached out to Granville County officials seeking a comment. So far, we have not heard back.
Despite the horrifying scene Sunday, neighbors told CBS17 they were amazed to see the effort by good Samaritans, stepping in to help the victims of the crash. That included grabbing tools in case they were needed to pry open doors, pulling young victims out of cars, and an elderly neighbor who Mann said, directed traffic.
“We were all in survival mode,” Mann said.