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Uncertain future lingers after van rams busy salon

By Cindy Simpson

“It was a nightmare.”
That’s what witness Tiffany Coy — the only stylist who was not injured in a Kingston beauty shop that was rammed by a van Tuesday — said about the accident.
But she also said things could have been much worse.
Coy was in a back room of Classic Styles on Race Street when Tuesday’s horrific accident happened.
Ten people were injured — six of them to the extent they had to be transported out by medical helicopters.
Two days after the accident, Coy was still sorting things out.
“There were five stylists in the shop that day. Four of us were hurt. I was the only one left standing, and I don’t know why,” she said. “I think it was because I’m supposed to take care of them.”
The accident happened Tuesday afternoon when driver Richard L. Ward of Kingston lost control, apparently due to a medical condition.
The van struck a car outside first, slowing it some, but it still smashed deep into the salon, pinning some of the victims.
Coy said it appears Richard Ward had a seizure.
“He’d never had one before,” she said. “He didn’t know. Things happen.”
Coy said she has talked to Richard’s wife, Kathy, to tell her no one is holding a grudge.
“My heart goes out to her. She is just beside herself,” Coy said.
However, it was Kathy Ward’s action from the passenger side of the van that kept things from being worse.
“Her turning the ignition off — she stopped it from killing us all,” Coy said.
Officials said Kathy Ward also was checked out for chest pains after the accident.
Salon workers who were hurt were owner Beth Finnell, Delane Hooks, Retha Hardie and Amy Riddle.
Others injured, according to Kingston Police Lt. Gary Nelson, included Marcia Holliday of Kingston and Summer Turpin of Rockwood, who were taken to Roane Medical Center in Harriman; and Jerry Lowe of Kingston, who was taken by ambulance to a Knoxville hospital.
Hardie’s customer, Cheryl Brooks, was seated and took the impact to her chest and abdomen, Coy said. Brooks was still in intensive care Wednesday.
With none of her colleagues to help her, Coy, a single mother, is doing whatever she can to keep the business alive.
She has a list of clients and is looking for a place from which to operate.
“These girls are not going to lose their livelihood,” she said with determination. “I’m going to do the best I can to take care of everyone.”
The badly damaged white structure near the courthouse the stylists once worked from will not be rebuilt, according to Coy.
“We had to go in and start cleaning up because there is no insurance,” she said. “We’re pretty much trying to pick our butts up from the ground and start over. We don’t have a game plan.” 
Meanwhile, Richard Ward was being evaluated at University of Tennessee Medical Center.
“He is still not aware of everything that has happened,” Coy said.
The full extent of the accident wasn’t immediately apparent, even to next-door neighbors.
Staff at the nearby Farm Bureau office were busily working and heard the commotion, but initially didn’t realize a van had rammed the building.
Once they realized what had happened, they called 911, authorities said.
Response was swift from multiple agencies, including Kingston police and fire departments, county ambulance service and rescue squad, and the Roane County Emergency Management Agency, according to Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam.
“Roane County Sheriff’s officers helped us tremendously,” Washam said.
Deputies helped with traffic control and answered calls for the Kingston Police Department.
“If we hadn’t had the response we had early on, if we hadn’t had the manpower we did to get the people out to a safe area, get evaluated, get them ready for transportation, we could have had an even worse condition on our hands,” Washam said.
“I couldn’t tell you how good everyone worked together in a situation like that,” he said. “Everyone did great.”
Coy said that she is starting a fund to help cover expenses for the victims.
It will most likely be at ORNL Federal Credit Union, she said.