Close call: Nashville, AR schools superintendent thankful - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Close call: Nashville, AR schools superintendent thankful no students hurt in stadium pole crash

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The 80 foot pole loaded with large lights crushed the woman's Toyota minivan, totaling it.  (Source: Jonathan Canaday/Southwest Arkansas Radio) The 80 foot pole loaded with large lights crushed the woman's Toyota minivan, totaling it. (Source: Jonathan Canaday/Southwest Arkansas Radio)
NASHVILLE, AR (KSLA) -

Tuesday afternoon brought a close call for a woman sitting in a van parked at the high school track and field in Nashville, AR, when strong winds brought a massive light pole crashing down onto her windshield.

She walked away with no injuries.

That no students were injured either was a big blessing, said an area school administrator.

"We are so thankful that an athlete here to participate in the track meet was not injured or hurt or possibly killed...," said Doug Graham, superintendent of Arkansas' Nashville Public Schools.

The 90 foot pole loaded with large lights crushed the woman's Toyota minivan, totaling it. Understandably shaken, the woman walked away with only minor injuries.

"Just 6 inches, and it would have been a whole different story," said Nashville Police Department Sgt. Ty Basiliere. "Just crushed the whole dash."

The woman, identified as 50-year-old Valerie Barnes of Texarkana, had been sitting in the driver's seat of the van when it happened around 3:30 p.m. She was there at Scrapper Stadium for a track event at the high school.

Barnes was out of the van by the time police arrived, and was taken to Howard Memorial Hospital to be checked out.

Basiliere said the power to that pole was immediately cut off after it came down, and that the rest of the poles were checked to ensure they were secure.

He believes the pole was likely brought down by the windy conditions in the area at the time, snapping the bolts. Winds in the area were upwards of 20 mph, with gusts of up to 40 mph.

There are four total light poles at Scrapper Stadium. Graham said a structural engineer has been called in to check the rest of the poles, which is expected to take place next week.

The poles are used to light the football field, and have been in place since the mid-90s.

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