Weather played a role in a pair of deadly car wrecks last Friday in Jackson County.
The first accident occurred about 3 p.m. on U.S. 441 just north of Shoal Creek Road in the Qualla community.
According to a report filed by N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Lucas Brooks, Kimberly Nicole Buchanan of Chief Youngdeer Road, Cherokee, hydroplaned while traveling north. Her Saturn drifted left and crossed the center turn lane into the southbound lane, where it hit a 1998 Nissan van, driven by Larry Hornbuckle, head-on. Hornbuckle, 59, of Wrights Creek Road, Cherokee, died as a result of his injuries.
Brooks estimated both vehicles were traveling at 50 mph before the crash and 45 mph at impact. After colliding, Hornbuckle’s car traveled 72 feet onto the right shoulder of the road, while Buchanan’s car was pushed back up the road 20 feet.
Drugs and alcohol are not suspected in the accident and no charges have been filed. Buchanan was admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville and was released Sunday.
Trevor Wondra, of Clover, South Carolina, witnessed the crash.
“We were coming toward the accident scene and we saw the car going northbound hydroplane in front of the van going south,” he said.
“The next thing you know, engine pieces and front ends were flying everywhere. We got out and the lady in the car was laying in the back seat of her car, and (Hornbuckle) was dead at the scene.”
According to an obituary on the website of the Cherokee One Feather, Hornbuckle had retired as a government employee for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. He had three children and five grandchildren.
A short time later, at about 4 p.m., a 1998 Lincoln driven by Joshua Hardman of Cullowhee hydroplaned on northbound U.S. 23/441 at the runaway truck ramp coming down Cowee Mountain, near Victory Baptist Church.
The car crossed the center turn lane and slid sideways into the southbound lane, where a 2017 Subaru Forester T-boned the car on the passenger side, N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Deitz said.
There were four people in the Lincoln. Gabrielle Yvonne “Gabby” Biddix and her 7-month-old daughter, Adalynn, were killed in the collision. Hardman and another passenger, Tim Wallace, also of Cullowhee, were injured and transported to Mission Hospital in Asheville.
The driver of the Forester, 71-year-old William Enloe, of Franklin, was at the wreck scene, able to walk around, Deitz said. He was taken to Angel Hospital in Franklin, treated and released.
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Chris Wilkinson was first on the scene, followed by the Savannah Fire Department and several EMS units.
Traffic was backed up in both directions for several hours, Deitz said.
According to an obituary, Biddix was a North Buncombe High School graduate who graduated from Western Carolina in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She was engaged to Hardman.
A funeral service for Biddix and her daughter is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday in the chapel of West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave., Weaverville.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses: www.gofundme.com/gabby-and-adalynn-biddix-funeral-expences.
According to the GoFundMe page, Hardman was admitted to Mission’s Intensive Care Unit. Wallace was treated and released at Mission.