Family, friends struggle with loss after deadly accident near Antlers - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Family, friends struggle with loss after deadly accident near Antlers

Updated:

ANTLERS, Okla. (AP) _ Family members were keeping vigil over a 72-year-old man who was critically injured when a car drifted into a funeral procession en route to his daughter-in-law's burial.

Arthur Petty Sr. underwent surgery Tuesday for injuries he suffered in the Monday afternoon accident that killed four women, including a mother-to-be.

``He's in ICU, his life is still in danger and he's not out of the woods yet,'' said Judy Staggs, Petty's daughter-in-law. ``We're waiting for him to come out of surgery right now and he'll have a long recovery.''

Petty's pickup truck was the second vehicle in the procession that was headed north on U.S. 271, authorities said. About 3:10 p.m. Monday, a vehicle driven by Francine Comstock for some reason crossed the center line, clipped the hearse, then hit head on the truck being driven by Petty's son.

Comstock, her daughter Debbie Comstock, Sheila Chauncey and Tamara Sharp all died instantly of massive injuries, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

``Nobody was in excess of the speed limits,'' said Trooper Rodney Davis, who investigated the crash. ``But nobody had time to brake, and the combined speeds is what killed them.''

The funeral procession was moving at about 50 mph, while Comstock's car was going less than 65 mph, Davis said.

The driver of the hearse, who did not want to be identified, said he saw the car coming toward him and he pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway.

Comstock's car clipped his outside mirror and continued until it hit Petty's vehicle. Another pickup struck the truck, troopers said.

``There were people laying on the side of the road, bleeding,'' the 82-year-old hearse driver told The Daily Oklahoman. ``The people in the car that did the hitting were still in the car. I called 911; that was the only thing to do.''

Petty was flown to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

Members of Petty's family had to decide whether to continue on to the cemetery to bury Jerri Sue Petty or go to the hospital, Staggs said. She decided to go to the hospital.

``I'm sorry, it's just so upsetting. But there were many people who continued onto the funeral, including my mother,'' Staggs said.

At One Creek Valley Baptist Church, where the four dead women were members, pastor Donny Day recalled how Debbie Comstock dedicated her life to singing gospel songs and playing the guitar.

``Debbie wasn't fully developed mentally, as many of us are,'' Day said. ``She probably had the mind of a 10-year-old girl, but her whole life revolved around singing and playing for the Lord.''

Sharp, who learned the gender of her unborn child just before her death, will be missed at the Choctaw Nation Nursing Home where she worked.

``Tamara was a real caring person,'' said Bettie Teel, the charge nurse at the center. ``She loved the little residents. That was her life; she just loved them to death.''

Sharp married last year on Valentine's Day and nursing home resident Henry York walked her down the aisle, Teel said. The ceremony was held at the nursing home.

Sharp had miscarried several times before her latest pregnancy, Teel said. She reached the six-month mark without any problems.

On Friday, the residents threw her a birthday party that was attended by Francine Comstock and Chauncey, who lived on the same patch of land as the Comstocks and Sharp. It turned out to be Sharp's last.

``It's just a horrendous tragedy,'' Teel said.
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