"It's been a rough month and a half but we'll get through it, for sure," says Shane Patrick, the assistant superintendent of Siloam Springs School District

By Joelle Goldstein
March 02, 2021 03:11 PM
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car crashes into Siloam Springs school
The car that drove into the school
| Credit: Courtesy Shane Patrick

Three people were hospitalized over the weekend after officials say a vehicle drove into an Arkansas school.

Shane Patrick, the assistant superintendent of Siloam Springs School District, tells PEOPLE this is the second time in five weeks that a car has hit the gymnasium of Siloam Springs Intermediate School.

"That building has been there 20 years and it's never happened, and now, of all a sudden, we've had two accidents within five weeks," Patrick explains. "So it does make us concerned."

The recent crash occurred on Sunday evening, just after 7 p.m., according to Patrick.

The assistant superintendent says the car was driving on W. Cheri Woodlock Parkway and the road eventually has an "s curve that veers off to the left around the school's property."

"This car stayed straight instead of making the s curve and it jumped the curb and ran right up into our gymnasium, which is on the corner of our facility," he explains.

Siloam Springs Police told CBS affiliate KFSM that the car never attempted to brake before hitting the building and that they believe the driver may have been impaired.

"It gets congested during the school hours but in the evening hours, it's not a bad intersection for us," Captain Derek Spicer told the outlet. "For this to happen… both of those accidents we believe at this time were caused by some type of impairment."

Three people — all of whom were inside the vehicle — were transported to Northwest Medical Center following the crash and were listed in critical condition, KFSM reported, citing police.

At this time, the cause of the crash is unknown and it is unclear if the driver will face charges. Officials are currently investigating, according to the local outlet.

A spokesperson with the Siloam Springs Police did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

car crashes into Siloam Springs school
The damage from the crash
| Credit: Courtesy Shane Patrick

As they start to rebuild the gymnasium, which Patrick says suffered "a lot of damage," the school is working with city engineers to find a way to prevent another crash from happening again.

"It's absolutely a concern for us. The safety of our students and staff is paramount," Patrick explains. "Obviously, it hasn't happened until now, and now, it's happened twice. So I don't want to take a chance on a third time and us not have done anything."

Concrete barriers have been considered in their plans, but Patrick says they're ideally hoping to find a solution that is both safe and visually pleasing.

"We want our school to be an inviting place that people look at and have pride in and feel like they want to be apart of," he explains. "We're looking at how we can do some sort of barrier system that would not make us look like a prison or a barricaded embassy somewhere."

This is the latest troubling incident for the school district, which, in addition to having back-to-back car crashes in their gymnasium also had their water pipes burst amid the recent winter storms.

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Despite that, Patrick says the community has remained resilient and made the best of the situation.

"We had that first accident... and then pipe issues from the winter storm that came through, and now this," Patrick says. "It's been a rough month and a half but we'll get through it, for sure."

"We have a great community. They really rally around the school district," he says. "Anytime we have something that we need as a school district, there are multiple people who step up and help us."

"It helps our staff know that our community does care about what we do," he adds. "Educating young people is a calling. It's very stressful, especially in times of a pandemic, but our staff has done a wonderful job of managing, and trying to move forward during this unprecedented time."