9 hospitalized after car hits funeral crowd in Boise

The driver, 86 and a friend of the family, is “devastated” by the incident.

kterhune@idahostatesman.comOctober 7, 2013 

— A group of mourners was leaving a funeral at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the corner of West McMillan Road and North Shamrock Avenue on Monday afternoon when an 86-year-old driver, whose name was not released, slammed into them — his white Toyota sedan leaving a parking lot, veering across one sidewalk and the church’s front lawn, then coming to rest on a second sidewalk.

The funeral was for 68-year-old Boise resident June Hobson. Her son, Brad Hobson, described the moments after the crash.

“It was pandemonium,” he said. “Everybody was screaming. People were frantically trying to assess the situation.”

First-responders were on the scene within 2 minutes of his 911 call, he said. A doctor and a firefighter who had attended the service helped the injured people.

“We were trying to keep everybody still because we didn’t know the extent of their injuries, and that’s exactly what the paramedics did when they arrived,” he said.

Between 50 and 70 people were outside the church when the car accelerated into the crowd. People were milling around after the service, waiting to ride over to the cemetery.

“We were standing there kind of figuring out which vehicle to get in and taking pictures,” Brad Hobson said. His sister, Kimberly Haddon, had her back to the car and was snapping a photo with another woman when she was hit.

Haddon suffered a concussion and a broken thumb, but seemed to be OK, Hobson said. A spokeswoman for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise said Haddon was listed in fair condition Monday evening.

The grandson of Brad Hobson’s uncle was not so lucky. The 5-year-old boy was run over by the car when it lurched forward, Hobson said.

“He was under the vehicle, and both of his legs had broken,” Hobson said. The boy also had a head wound. He was scheduled for orthopedic surgery Monday evening.

Another woman, Karen Darrington, also was seriously hurt. She suffered a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain, Brad Hobson said. Darrington, a six-time Idaho Golf Association Women's Amateur champion, was being kept in intensive care overnight, said Genger Fahleson, executive director of the IGA.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her," Fahleson said.

Though Darrington and the child were originally thought to have life-threatening injuries, Boise Police Department spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said later Monday that the pair’s wounds were considered serious, an improvement.

The injured were taken to Saint Alphonsus’ hospitals in Boise and Eagle, and St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center. Six of them were transported via ambulances, while three were taken in private vehicles.

Brad Hobson said the driver of the sedan, a close friend of his late mother, had been struggling to get the car into gear when the crash happened. The car accelerated without warning.

“He sped away, and he wasn’t stopping,” said Hobson, who declined to name the man. “He was going very fast.”

The sedan jumped over the sidewalk and plowed into the group of pedestrians.

Hobson said the crash was purely an accident on the part of the driver, whose wife — a passenger in the sedan — was among the injured. The couple rode to the hospital in an ambulance.

“He was devastated from what had happened,” Hobson said. “There was absolutely no ill-will, no way.”

It wasn’t clear Monday evening what ramifications the driver would face. Hightower said it is possible that the crash could result in charges, but she emphasized that the matter was still under investigation.

As terrible as the situation was, Hobson said he took comfort in the fact that most of the funeral’s youngest attendees were spared.

Minutes before the crash, all 28 of June Hobson’s grandchildren were loaded onto a bus for the trip to the cemetery and were out of harm’s way when disaster struck.

The 5-year-old was the only child hit, Hightower said.

“None of those children were around, they were all in a bus, safely protected,” Brad Hobson said. “It’s absolutely a miracle.”

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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