by Sarah Little
The day started off with a buzz… Homecoming! Oklahoma State University’s and Stillwater’s greatest tradition. They were still a buzz from the previous night’s activities—the elaborate displays at Walkaround, Coach Ford’s sick dance moves at Homecoming & Hoops—and anticipation for the parade, the tailgating and of course, the game. Attending the parade is a tradition for so many people, generations of Cowboy fans gather all decked out in orange and black, to show their love for the University and the traditions that make our community a great place to be.
There were 130 official parade entries. As entry number 118 crossed the threshold of Hall of Fame Avenue and made the turn on to the cross street, all hell broke loose. What followed has been documented from seconds after for many days. What we at Stillwater Living Magazine wish to share with you are the stories of good that shined during the moments of tragedy.
Alleyn Campbell, son of Maury and Collett Campbell, is a very independent 12-year-old boy. With parents active in the local community, it’s not uncommon at community events to see him making his way around events either by himself, with one of his two brothers, or with the entire family. As a somewhat notable local family, the Campbell Triplets are well known by many in Stillwater. Their bright smiles and friendly attitudes are a welcome site to many community events. This year, Alleyn decided that he wanted to see the parade from a different vantage point, so with the blessing of his parents, he made his way to the corner of Hall of Fame and Main Street to meet up with friends.
“Maury and I talked, and decided that although we would not be right with him, we would be close ‘if anything happened’ – famous last words, right?” said Collett.
The actual events of exactly where he was standing and where he was hit are still a blur to Alleyn, thankfully. What isn’t a blur are the people who rushed to his aid immediately following the accident. While most have seen the stories of Taylor Collins and his sister who drove Alleyn to the hospital, many don’t know that he had another group with him before and during the accident. GT Moody and his family were standing with Alleyn watching the parade. Alleyn and GT’s mother, Connie Moody, were both knocked over in the impact of the crash. When Connie regained awareness of what had happened, she immediately went to Alleyn, and laid with him until help and family could arrive. Meanwhile, a frantic father emerged holding his unconscious daughter. GT took the child from the father so that he could find his son amidst the wreckage. He said there was an EMT at his side immediately, and together they were able to get the little girl the help she needed. Meanwhile, Connie was comforting Alleyn until Taylor Collins, one of OSU’s Pistol Pete mascots was able to load Alleyn and a few others into his truck and drive to Stillwater Medical Center. The Moodys prayed feverishly for their new young friends, but cleared the area and went on to the rest of the day’s activities.
One young girl had been playing in front of them throughout the parade. In the chaos of the crowd, they weren’t sure what had happened to the little girl. Together, the Moodys’ prayed that the little girl was okay. Later when they arrived at the tailgate before the game, they saw the same girl happily playing football at the tailgate next to theirs.
Throughout the afternoon and then through the game, Connie kept getting more and more sore from the morning’s events. Her family urged her to get checked out to make sure she didn’t have any serious injuries. Once at the hospital, her insistence was still wondering how Alleyn was doing. She didn’t have a last name for Alleyn, just his first name and an idea of his injuries. She asked the staff of the hospital if they knew anything about his condition. Though they could not tell her anything about his condition, they made a call to Alleyn’s nurse upstairs and made contact with his mother, Collett, who came down and greeted more of his “Angels and Heroes.”
Connie and the entire Moody family were so happy to know that he had received the help he needed and was on the mend. The next day, Alleyn also got to meet Taylor as well.
What others don’t necessarily realize is that when things like this happen, it happens to more than just the person injured. While Collett and Maury were worried about Alleyn, she also had to worry about his two brothers, Branden and Collyn, and what information they’ve received, as well as the rest of the family. News crews were posting photos and information fast and furiously, and she didn’t want anyone to suffer unnecessarily. After the boys were finally able to be reunited, they were happy to be together, though curious about all the extra attention brother was getting.
Collett says that the outpouring of love and help from the community is overwhelming and much appreciated. From local school administration to the celebrities that made visits to cheer him up, and wonderful gifts from near and far, they’ve been surrounded in love and support from our community.
OSU Football is a tradition in the Turner household and attending Homecoming is just one of those things that the Turners always do. Their Cowboy pride runs deep as Robert Turner is an alumna and a former Cowboy football player. For years they attended the parade with their children, Robbie and Keysha. During their youth, Robbie and Keysha even appeared in the parade themselves with different youth activities that they were participating in. After they were grown, it became time to share the tradition with the next generation of their family—their grandkids. While Robert and Annette have seven grandchildren, they’ve impacted thousands more in the Stillwater community. From working at local daycares, to manning Stillwater’s first after school program, to working in the Skyline cafeteria and then the Stillwater Child Nutrition program, Annette has shared her caring with kids of many ages across the Stillwater community. Combine that with work through their church, and you’ve got a lot of people who’ve come to know and love “Miss Annette.”
That morning Annette and Robert stationed themselves at the intersection for the parade along with their daughter Keysha Sanders, and some of their grandchildren. Robert was next to Annette, his bride of more than 40 years. Anyone who knows the Turners know that if they aren’t at work, they are together.
Keysha had just walked over to the adjacent parking lot to pick up one of the children that had cheered in the parade when she heard the commotion. As a nurse, and a mother, her first instinct was to try and provide aid to anyone she could help. She found the first person that needed her help and as she was trying to apply pressure to a wounded person, she heard a faint voice that said “Keysha, my wrist!” When they turned Annette over, she saw her daughter and her daughter knew that her mother was seriously injured.
“I can’t thank the people of Stillwater enough, from our emergency responders to the average citizens who just jumped in and helped us,” said Keysha. “For years, my family has been involved in this community, has cheered for, helped, prayed for and offered assistance to anyone we saw needed it, and in that horrible moment of chaos, it was repaid to us tenfold.”
Two of the emergency responders happened to be family friends of the Turners, and were thankfully there when the family needed them the most. Chris Cangelose, EMT, and Ryan Blake, SFD, were on scene and allowed Keysha to be with her mother as she was taken to the helicopter and transferred to OU Medical Center.
“My mom spent many seasons cheering for Ryan when he played football with my brother, Robbie,” said Keysha. “And Chris has been an angel to our family in our times of medical emergency more than once.”
Within minutes, Keysha put the call out to prayer warriors across Cowboy nation. And just as Miss Annette had spent many an hour praying for the children of Stillwater, they came together to pray for her.
Annette has been in OU Medical Center since the accident, but as of press time, she is improving amazingly. The family credits the massive amount of prayers from the community they’ve been so happy to live in, work in and serve for the past 40 years.
“I know we are here by the grace of God,” said Keysha. “He’s got a plan for her still yet. But we join our community in grieving for those that weren’t as lucky as my mom. My mother is the embodiment of hope,” said Keysha. “We know that she is going to pull through this with the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit.”
Annette has a long road ahead, but she and her family have hope that she will make a full recovery from her injuries and it won’t be long before she’s back at the sidelines cheering on another generation of Stillwater kids.
4 cars, 7 horses and an ATV
Entry number 128 in the parade was the Payne County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Mounted Patrol. Seven people, including two officers, four reserve officers and two volunteers, rode behind Officer Marvin Noyes in a patrol car, followed by officers in a 4×4 ATV, patrol car and an SUV patrol. Undersheriff Gary McKinnis was leading the mounted officers and from his vantage point on top of his horse, he saw the car approaching.
“I saw (the car) coming in fast, but thought to myself, ‘they’re going to stop right at the barricade.’” McKinnis could not have been more wrong. As the car careened through the motorcycle barricade and then the crowd, it came to a stop right in front of Officer Noyes’ patrol car.
“Officer Noyes responded very quickly to assess the driver and then put her in custody almost immediately,” said McKinnis. “By then, we had moved the horses out of the way, Officer Benevidias and I were off our horses and sent the rest back to the courthouse to load and get out of there,” said McKinnis.
Lieutenant Chris Nixon, PCSO, said that he, along with the other officers, jumped into action and started helping.
“Our first response was to provide aid to anyone we could help until medical help arrived, then we assisted in securing the scene and providing perimeter control for the Stillwater Police Department,” said Nixon. “It was chaos, but the response from everyone on scene was amazing. The citizens of Stillwater stepped up and immediately began helping where they could.”Lieutenant Nixon also credits the National Guard’s men and women who were on scene for providing much needed assistance.
“They were such a great help,” said Nixon. “They helped to secure the scene and allowed law enforcement and medical personnel to do what they needed to do in the crisis.”
Regardless of what your role is in our community, Oklahomans and the people of Stillwater know and embody a spirit of compassion, of help and of resilience that has been tested too many times. If you are wanting to help the victims of the Homecoming tragedy… there are several ways.
1. Give Blood
After incidences like this our state’s blood supplies are taken lower than can be refilled by normal donation. The American Red Cross (redcross.org) and The Oklahoma Blood Institute (obi.org) both have donation instructions, drive sites and information for prospective donors.
2. Donate Money
The Stillwater Medical Center Foundation has set up a fund for the victims of the tragedy. If you would like to direct your donation to a particular person, there are several donation pages on GoFundMe.com, as well as accounts at several local banks.
3. Donate Time
If you have a personal connection to one of the victims, share some of your time in the aftermath of the tragedy. For those seriously hurt, there will be weeks, if not months, that they will need assistance from others, whether it’s a hot meal prepared and delivered, a yard raked or mowed, grocery trips or transportation.
4. Be a Friend
Even though some were not physically injured in the wreck, several may have lasting emotional injuries. Be compassionate if they are struggling. Lend an ear, a shoulder or help them get the professional help they need to get through it. PTSD is real and there were many, many people who witnessed unimaginable things that day.