By RACHEL C. DOVE
HORSEPEN - Two families had their worst nightmare come true when their phones rang early Tuesday morning, informing them an accident had occurred on Old Rt. 52 near Horsepen that claimed the life of one of the their sons and seriously injured the other.
According to information released by Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Arthur Farra, the accident happened at approximately 6:30 a.m., as the young men were en route to the Mingo Central High School at Red Jacket, where they were students.
The driver of the 2001 Chevrolet full-size truck, Tyler Hatfield, 17, of Browning Fork, apparently lost control of his vehicle near the Horsepen Southern Baptist Church and struck a culvert. Farra stated that the dampness of the road mixed with excessive speed appeared to be the contributing factors that led to the accident.
After striking the culvert, the vehicle apparently flipped onto its side and then proceeded to roll, taking out an electrical pole. Both Hatfield and his passenger, Cody Carter, 17, also of Browning Fork, were ejected. Neither teen was wearing a seatbelt.
Hatfield was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries he sustained. Carter was transported to the Logan Regional Medical Center by the LEASA ambulance service. He was then air-lifted to the Cabell Huntington Hospital where he remains in intensive care.
Hatfield was a junior at Mingo Central, and according to Mingo County Board of Education Superintendent Randy Keathley, was an honor student and an athlete. He was the son of Michael and Patty Hatfield and according to information provided by family members, was preceded in death by a sister who was his only sibling.
Carter is the son of Rush and Juanita Carter, has six living brothers and had one sister who is deceased. He is a senior at Mingo Central and is the youngest of his family.
A family member at the Cabell Huntington Hospital, where family and a host of friends are there in a show of support for the injured teen, spoke with the Daily News and provided an update about his condition and the extent of his injuries.
Carter is said to have suffered a broken shoulder and a separated spleen, and is undergoing extensive testing to rule out other possible injuries including an intestinal tear. Carter’s sister-in-law said he had spoken briefly to a couple of family members, but does not recollect anything about the accident.
They have yet to tell him the fate of his best friend, believing that the news would be too much for Carter to bear at this time.
“They’ve grown up together,” said the family member. “When we were asked how long they had been friends, we simply said ‘forever’, because we can’t remember a time when they haven’t been at each other’s side.
“This news will devastate Cody, there’s no doubt about it. He’s lost his best friend. We’re very concerned as to how this will affect his recovery.”
Superintendent Keathley said that grief counselors and crisis management members were at both the Mingo Central High School and the Gilbert Middle School Tuesday, speaking with faculty and students who were close to the two teens.
“There’s only one word that comes to mind when thinking of this great loss, and that is ‘tragic,’” said Keathley. “It’s hard to even speak about it. Losing a friend or family member is devastating to everyone, but when it’s the life of a young person who had so much potential and who left this world much too soon, it takes the grief to an entirely new level.
“Tyler was liked by everyone, teachers and students alike. He had an outgoing personality and a very promising future.
“Our hearts go out to the families of both young men.”
The family of Carter is asking that the public please remember him and the Hatfield family in prayers, as well as their classmates and teachers at Mingo Central High School.
The accident remains under investigation by the MCSD.