Star athlete injured in head-on wreck

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Justin Wyas

A popular Green Forest High School student-athlete was seriously injured early Sunday morning in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 412, according to the Arkansas State Police.

Justin Wyas, 18, a senior who was expected to graduate this year, was listed in stable but critical condition at St John's Hospital-Springfield after being airlifted with facial and internal injuries and a possible fractured pelvis, according to school officials.

State Trooper Chad Hipps said the accident occurred at about 7 a.m. Sunday morning west of Osage when Wyas was westbound in a 1994 GMC truck on 412 and he crossed the double yellow lines, hitting a 2000 Mercedes head-on.

The Mercedes was driven by Helen J. Gratsch, about 68, of Cherokee Village.

Hipps reported it was not known why Wyas crossed the double yellow lines.

Hipps said Monday that there was no sign of alcohol in the incident, and that it is possible Wyas fell asleep at the wheel, but the facts are not yet clear pending the outcome of the investigation.

Gratsch was airlifted to Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville with two broken ankles, Hipps said. Her condition was not known Monday.

There were no other people in either car and no others involved, the report said.

Wyas is a popular student and athlete who only last week set a new meet record in the 400-meter dash at the Gentry Pioneer Relay. He is an outstanding track and field athlete and also played football for the Green Forest Tigers.

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