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Driver ODs, crashes into pole near playground

August 1, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Monday’s blue skies and warm weather should have resulted in a perfect day at the park but the actions of two people left families angry and scared instead.

Tabitha and Brad Wyrick, both of Huntington, are facing charges after they overdosed in their vehicle driven by Tabitha Wyrick on Monday afternoon and crashed into a light pole just feet from a playground filled with children.

No one other than the two suspects was physically injured in the incident.

Tabitha Wyrick, 32, is charged with DUI and malicious assault. Brad Wyrick, 33, is charged with permitting DUI and simple possession. Heroin was found under his seat, according to Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial.

The incident occurred around 3 p.m. Tabitha Wyrick allegedly told police she was attempting to park. Both suspects had to be revived with naloxone and were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.

The vehicle narrowly missed the playground sand pit before slamming into the pole.

“This will not be tolerated,” Dial said. “Both will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We have the National Drug Recognition Expert officer of the year investigating the case.”

A Huntington father, TJ, who declined to give his last name, said he turned to see the car entering the grass and he screamed to alert people as the car hit the pole.

“My kids were just in the sand pit,” he said. “You can see where it just missed it.”

TJ said his family had at least six children with them Monday. They brought family from out of town to the park to get family photos.

“They better get what they deserve,” he said of the suspects.

Parents were in tears and visibly angry as police searched the vehicle and the two left in ambulances.

“I don’t want to go to the park again, mommy,” a toddler said as he walked past the scene.

Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District, said hearing that breaks his heart.

“I am so angry and so sick of the drug abuse and the exposure to our kids,” Brady said. “It is ruining our community.”

Brady said had the crash occurred just 45 minutes earlier, a whole line of kids waiting for a free snow cone would have been in harm’s way.

“We can’t have park rangers and we can’t put up barriers around everything that we do,” Brady said. “It shouldn’t be like this.”

Brady said he will be speaking with the park’s attorney in the morning and he plans to press any and all charges he can against the couple.

Karen Yost, CEO of Prestera Center, said the families and children who experienced the event could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said it’s important for parents to be aware of how they react to the situation around their children to best allow them to recover.

“A key factor with better recovery is the extent with which people feel supported by those around them,” Yost said. “Parents will be a key source of support, but it’s hard because parents are going through their own response. They understand very clearly ‘My own child could have been killed.’”

Yost said it’s important to listen to your child and watch for any changes in behavior. Parents will know their child best, she said, and some may want to talk about it and others won’t. She said it’s important to talk about it, however, and show the child they aren’t alone in their feelings of fear or anger.

She encourages parents to turn off the TV to limit exposure to negative stories about the event, and be careful of focusing solely on the threat and fear. Maintaining a routine is also important, she said. For example, if you always drive past the park, don’t stop.

“Parents need to be cautious saying ‘We won’t go back to that park because it’s not safe,’” Yost said. “To kids, that equates to all parks are not safe.”

Yost said children have a natural ability to heal, but it can take a few months for shock to wear off. Symptoms of PTSD to look for include intrusive memories, nightmares and flashbacks, avoidance of places and things like not going back to the park, agitation, trouble sleeping, being easily startled and mood problems.

Warrants will be filed for the arrest of both suspects for when they are released from the hospital.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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