Trolley owner, witness react to fatal trolley crash in Hermann
HERMANN - Neighbors in the town of Hermann, Missouri are still grieving after a fatal accident involving a trolley killed a 55-year-old woman Saturday.
Paula Heidemann was driving a Hyundai Tucson SUV when state troopers said she pulled out from a private driveway onto Highway 100 into the path of a trolley car. It happened just south of Hermann.
Hermann Trolley Company owner, Kevin Sanderlin, said there were 24 people on the trolley at the time of the accident. Seven of them, including the trolley driver, suffered minor or moderate injuries, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report.
Two of Heidemann's grandchildren, 13-year-old Autumn Kibbons and 8-year-old Grace Sullivan, were in the car with her. Kibbons was transported to Women's and Children's Hospital in Columbia and Sullivan was transported to University Hospital.
Their injuries are considered not life threatening, according to MSHP.
"It was a bad scene. It was very very bad," Sanderlin said. He said he was driving a trolley himself when he got the call. One of his other drivers picked him up and took him to the scene.
"It's not good for Hermann," Sanderlin said. "There's two young girls out here without a grandma and it doesn't matter whose fault it is or what happened. They don't have a grandma anymore."
Sanderlin's trolleys take tourists to attractions in town, mostly wineries. He said he feels like he employs designated drivers for the town.
Tessa Eldringhoff was eating lunch at Dos Primos Mexican Restaurant on Saturday when she saw something happening outside.
"The accident didn't look bad at all, but it was really concerning just because there was so many people," Eldringhoff said. "We were afraid that someone did pass away."
Eldringhoff said word spread quickly after the accident because of the size of Hermann and because the trolleys are so important to the tight-knit community.
"It's a small town so when things like this happen there's going to be so many mixed feelings especially because it's something like the trolleys that is so big in our town," Eldringhoff said.
Sanderlin said he knew Heidemann personally and he is really going to miss her.
"She was a friend of mine. I knew her, I knew her personally and so did a lot of other people and a lot of my drivers did," Sanderlin said. "Good lady, it's terrible that these things happen."