CAR HITS SCHOOL

Arrowhead school closes due to damage from crash

Driver flees the scene; school to reopen on Wednesday, official says
2010-09-18T12:15:00Z 2010-10-19T17:54:30Z Arrowhead school closes due to damage from crashSUSAN OLP Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
September 18, 2010 12:15 pm  • 

For the second time in 14 months, a vehicle barreled into the south wall of Arrowhead Elementary, hitting a water main and soaking the interior of the west Billings school.

The water damage from the crash early Saturday has forced School District 2 officials to close Arrowhead to students on Monday and Tuesday.

“I got a call shortly after 3 (a.m.) indicating a car once again lost control and crashed into the wall of our school,” SD2 Superintendent Keith Beeman said Saturday.

The car, a white 1993 Chevy Corsica was traveling westbound on Poly Drive at high speed, Billings Police Sgt. Neil Lawrence said. The driver was reportedly racing another vehicle, Lawrence said.

The Corsica went through the stop sign at Poly Drive and 38th Street West, struck a school sign and then plowed into the side of the school, Lawrence said.

The accident remains under investigation.

In the previous incident, on July 21, 2009, a car hit the brick wall at just about the same time. Because that accident happened in the summer, school wasn’t disrupted.  

By the time Beeman arrived at the school Saturday, Billings police were on the scene, along with Arrowhead Principal Robin Bedford and Kathy Olson, executive director of elementary education. The car was still halfway inside the building, Beeman said, but the driver had fled the scene.

Water soaked the floors of several classrooms, a section of the library and the gymnasium and cafeteria, Beeman said. About 15 SD2 custodians plus Big Sky Restoration Services and Billings Carpet Cleaning cleaned up the mess, Beeman said.

By 6 a.m., the main had been shut off and all the water had been mopped up, he said. On Saturday afternoon, Fisher Construction was busy repairing the damaged brick wall, as well as removing the lower portions of soaked drywall and insulation from some of the classrooms.

Furniture was stacked around the building and fans hummed in rooms and down the hallways, helping dry the floors and carpets.

Although school will be out Monday and Tuesday, transportation will be provided for area kindergarten schools who attend Boulder Elementary. The public is asked not to drive into the school’s parking areas, to keep them open to staff and contractors who are busy making repairs and cleaning up.

Beeman is confident school will be in session on Wednesday.

“It may not be 100 percent pretty, but we will have things dry and safe before we bring the students back,” he said.

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