Three sisters from Baker were killed and their grandmother was seriously injured Tuesday in a traffic accident in Wing, Ala., just north of the Florida line. “It was the worst thing we’ve had in Wing in awhile,” said Derek Henley, a firefighter with the Wing Volunteer Fire Department who responded to the 7 p.m. wreck.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety identified the victims as Danielle Pippins, 8; Jenelle Pippins, 8; and Savannah Furr Pippins, 11. They all attended Okaloosa County schools. Danielle and Jenelle Pippins were twin sisters and had just completed second grade at Antioch Elementary School in Crestview, said Wanda Avery, the recently appointed school principal. Avery said her staff notified the school’s teachers about the accident using the school’s phone tree. “It’s a very sad situation. We’re all still in shock,” she said. Avery said the school is “open to offer help to the family in any way we can.” Savannah Furr Pippins had just completed sixth grade at Shoal River Middle School in Crestview, Principal Bob Jones said. “You knew who she was because you’d see her smiling so much,” he said. Shoal River educators also were grieving. “It’s just been a very, very tough day for us,” Jones said.
The girls ‘ grandmother, Dianne Poire’, 54, of Sarasota, was driving when the accident occurred at the intersection of Alabama County Route 4 and Alabama State Route 137. She was taken by helicopter to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, according to the Department of Public Safety’s news release. She was listed in critical condition Wednesday. Henley said two young women who he believed were returning to Birmingham, Ala., from a beach vacation on Route 4 ran a stop sign at the intersection of Route 137 and hit the Ford Tempo station wagon occupied by Poire’ and the three girls. The impact of the T-bone collision “crushed that little station wagon like a bug,” Henley said.
The Department of Public Safety identified Christine Harris as the driver or the 2010Toyota Corolla that ran into the Tempo. Harris was taken to a local hospital and treated for “non-life-threatening injuries,” the news release said. Krista Hutchins of Wing said several residents rushed to the scene to try to help the victims. She identified four of the good Samaritans as James Hooker, Greg Ross, Chet Ross and Barbara Jordan. “They pulled the little girls out and tried to get the lady out,” Hutchins said. “Barbara and the others checked the girls’ pulses, and when they realized they were gone they covered them and prayed for them.” David Anderson, chief deputy with the Covington County. Ala.,
Sheriff’s Office said the residents “did everything they could” to help. “That’s a good community down there. Those folks are good to volunteer,” he said. Henley, the firefighter, confirmed the children were killed on impact and the grandmother had to be extricated from the vehicle. The girls are survived by their mother and stepfather, Jenny and Jim Higdon of Crestview, and their father, Eric Pippins of Crestview, according to an obituary from Whitehurst Powell Funeral Home.
Dally News Staff Writer Katie Tammen contributed to this report.
Northwest Florida Daily News, Okaloosa County