Collision Course

Sophomores recount events of pile-up crash in front of school

Thomas car after the crash. Photo submitted by Luke Nolkemper.

Photo submitted by Luke Nolkemper

Thomas’ car after the crash. Photo submitted by Luke Nolkemper.

Charley Thomas, Publication Editor

Anybody who has driven to BV knows the two signature roundabouts out front are an accident waiting to happen — except, in this instance, the accident did happen, and it was much more than a simple scratch. 

In an entirely sophomore series of collisions, Kayleigh Willhoite, Billy Flynn and Aaron Thomas all found themselves engulfed in the incident that made for a far-from-typical commute home from school. 

Witnesses like sophomores Luke Nolkemper and Jack Browne were also a part of the chaotic scene, and their accounts of the crash, along with those of the drivers, helped piece together the puzzle of the pile-up. 

The event started when a school bus, taking a wide turn, caused Willhoite to slam on her brakes. Flynn, driving the car directly behind Willhoite, was then pushed into her vehicle after being rear-ended by Thomas. According to the majority of those involved, distracted driving was to blame for the incident. 

“[Thomas] was on his phone scrolling, then his Smart Car just went ‘Boom,’” Browne said. “The airbags deployed in Aaron’s car, so it was literally white on the inside everywhere.” 

Thomas’ car sustained the most damage, as it was completely totaled. 

“It was like a clown car hitting a brick wall,” Flynn said. 

Immediately after the chain of collisions occurred, the drivers, still in shock, struggled to stay calm as they made sense of the event. 

“I thought it was my fault, so I got out, slammed my door and punched my window,” Flynn said.

Similar to Flynn, Nolkemper’s initial reaction was a flurry of concern, but he then found himself helping out in any way he felt he could. 

“I was like, ‘Oh crap!’ Then I was like, ‘Did Billy kill someone?’” Nolkemper said. “Then I offered him grub and drinks and everything.”

Once the police arrived, officers assessed the situation and walked the drivers through the post-crash process. 

“They asked for insurance, and then they looked at our licenses and all that stuff,” Willhoite said. “Then they gave me Billy’s insurance, which is the second car, and the police officer’s personal phone number in case I needed to contact him.” 

While Willhoite was busy discussing details with the cops, Flynn added some humor to the tense interactions following the wreck.

“I griddied when they towed [Thomas’] car away,” Flynn said. 

Once the series of events that took place was agreed upon, the drivers involved moved on to resolving other consequences of the accident — some of which were health-related. 

“We went to the doctor’s office the next day, and they told me I had a concussion and whiplash,” Willhoite said. “They wanted to see if I had any spinal fractures because of where I got hit on the back of my neck, so we got an X-ray.” 

Despite the drivers’ compliance with one another and the officers, some animosity arose when trying to assign the blame. 

“Everyone thinks different things about what happened, but I think it was the third car’s fault,” Willhoite said. “Everyone just thought it was each other’s fault and is trying to blame each other.” 

Thomas expressed a more direct, though unpopular, opinion as to who caused the chain of accidents.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Thomas said. “It was Kayleigh’s fault.”

All disagreement aside, these sophomores learned a valuable lesson going forward as they continue to navigate the roads around BV. 

“Everybody [needs to] pay attention,” Willhoite said. “That’s a really important thing to do, especially getting out of the parking lot.”