Details are still sketchy, but I thought I’d share what I know so far, since Newport is the hometown of both my husband and my father, and these victims are/were family friends and longtime local teachers in the Newport school system.

An AP news release via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today reports that two of the seven people injured in a bizarre and tragic accident at a Newport restaurant yesterday have died, and that two more are still in critical condition.  All of the victims were current or retired Newport teachers, and were injured yesterday evening when a truck driven by Gary Nicholson Jr. crossed several lanes of traffic and crashed into the Hardee’s restaurant where the victimes were eating dinner, a weekly get-together for the longtime friends, who had a love of teaching in common.

The two retired teachers whose injuries proved fatal were Beverly  Tapp and  Jane  Wright.  The other five, who were injured, were Levi Anders, Carol Brand, Pat Brown, Jane Parnell, and Velma Johnson.  Word-of-mouth from Newport reports that Brand and Brown are listed in critical condition in a Memphis hospital, and that one other victim is in a Little Rock hospital, with the remaining two victims having been treated for their injuries and released. 

Nicholson, who, last we heard, is still being held by police, received minor injuries in the accident, and was arrested on suspicion of drug violations and Driving While Intoxicated.  More charges may follow.

Our prayers and well wishes go out to the families ravaged by this terrible and senseless tragedy.