High winds cause injuries, topple trees and power lines

Last Wednesday’s high wind gusts caused two different accidents at the Widmyer Elementary track that injured two Morgan County students. One was a Berkeley Springs High School track team member and the other was a Warm Springs Middle School track team member. Both teams were practicing at the track that afternoon, said volunteer track coach John Rowland, who is also a school board member.

Morgan County 911 Assistant Director Sarah Hogbin said an emergency call came in around 3:15 p.m. on April 4 for a 17-year-old high school student had been hit with a metal bleacher. The student was transported to War Memorial Hospital by Morgan County Emergency Medical Services.

Rowland, who was coaching   that day, said that the front end of a portable bleacher was blown up in the air from a wind gust. The bleacher struck a long distance runner in the side. She was near the fence where the bleacher was propped up. Kids put their water bottles and belongings on the bleachers during practice, he said.

Rowland said he administered first aid to the girl and called for EMS to have her checked out at the hospital. She had minor injuries and was released shortly after.

Rowland said the middle school track team member was hit by a mat that flew up in the air from another strong wind gust between 4:30 or 4:45 p.m. The student was taken by Morgan County EMS to War Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Warm Springs Middle School Principal Gene Brock said that coaches told him that the landing pad from the high jump was blown in the air from a strong wind gust. It landed on top of the middle school student, who suffered facial injuries in the accident.   Other students had to pull the pad off him. His current condition is unknown.

Rowland said the winds weren’t bad when they got to the track. The softball team practiced later that evening without incident. The portable bleacher that hit the student is very sturdy and it takes a team of people to move it, Rowland said. The landing pad weighs around 100 to 150 pounds, Brock said.

Superintendent Erich May is talking with maintenance about ways to stabilize the portable bleachers on the track, Rowland said. County School Maintenance Director Jamie Harris said the school system is working with principals and athletic directors to secure objects that could become airborne during high wind gusts.

Downed trees & power lines

Hogbin said the 911 Dispatch Center received around 20 different calls about downed trees in roadways and electrical issues from all around the county last Wednesday. Area firefighters responded to a minor fire caused by a downed power line on Woodland Lane in Hedgesville around 4:30 p.m. and also a transformer fire on Johnson Mill Road around 8 p.m.

The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for Wednesday, April 4 as a strong cold front moved into the region.