Father Saves Daughter, Loses Another As Car Explodes

7:34 AM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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Saluda, SC (WLTX) -- It is a true tragedy anytime someone dies in a car wreck. The situation is made even worse, when you're helpless to save the life of your loved one.

Two Saluda high school students were driving home from their football game after an exciting night of playing in the marching band, but one of them, would never make it home.

Previous Coverage: SC Teen Killed in Fiery Crash Identified

It's the fourth game of the season at Saluda High School. The drumbeat of the student band fills the stands as the Tigers take on Branchville.

Hundreds in the community turn out for the game and halftime festivities. School Principal Harvey Livingston recalls this particular Friday night.

"Saluda football. There's nothing better It's just energy in the air," said Livingston. "Everywhere from the spirit week to decorating the school and our banners."

Shayla Andrews, 14, a trumpet player, was performing along with her 17-year-old sister Joye.

"It's halftime playing with the band, it was fun," said Shayla. "It was homecoming, my best friend won homecoming queen."

Members of the band flew banners, honoring two of the school's students who had died in years past. As it happens, one fan snaps this photo of a rainbow over the band.

"There was a ray of sunshine amongst the clouds shining down," said Livingston. "It was really a perfect night until we got that phone call."

After the game, Shayla and her sister Joye packed up their band equipment and grabbed a bite to eat.

"My daddy, he had given us the car and told us to come straight home," said Shayla. "I got a piece of pizza. I don't remember anything after that."

The girls' father Earnest Andrews says a neighbor knocked on the door saying there had been an accident just feet away from his front door.

"I just took off running, cause the car was already in flames. I was just in panic, I ran," said Earnest.

What he hears next he says, he'll never be able to forget.

"I hear my baby calling daddy. Daddy! I had to go in there and get her," said Earnest. "All I see what fire, and I know that was my car and my babies were in there. Both of my babies were in there. The only thing I know is I've got to try and get them out."

With the car engulfed, Earnest dives through the smoke and flames and feels a hand.

"I start pulling her and she slipped. So I went on up in there and put my arms under her and pulled her out," said Earnest. "And when I went back to get Joye to try to get her out. That's when the car exploded again."

"When I woke up, I remember, I think I was asking for my sister, they told me that she didn't make it," said Shayla. "She was just the nicest person. She had a crazy laugh. Her laugh would brighten up anybody's day and she had the biggest smile. "She was my best friend. She kept my out of trouble."

This wouldn't be the only time tragedy struck the Andrews family. In 2011, a third sister died in a car accident in Florida.

"Now this. It doesn't get any better the second time around. I tried my best to save this one and I tried my best to save the other one! That's all you can do," said Earnest. "Any father would have done the same thing. Any father would have went up in there and get their baby."

"This is the second child my dad's got to bury. I know it's hard on him and my momma for them to even have to bury a child," said Shayla. "And then the fact that they could have lost both of us."

"I wish somebody would hit me and wake me up. But it's for real. It's for real," said Earnest.

Monday, a somber band practice ends with students leaving messages for Joye. But it wouldn't be the only one.

"Nobody would ever forget the smile that she always had," Up in the sky, over practice, Joye's best friend Jaimee Browder says it was a sign.

"Some people took pictures of it. Later we looked at it. You could see her face in the clouds. We know it was her watching down on us," said Browder.

While the empty halls will be without Joye and her laughter; family and love, is what the Andrews family say will get them through this tradgey.

"I just do what would make her proud. What would make her happy with me," said Shayla.

As a family, school, and community all continue to mourn, they know eventually they will heal. Not only because they have each other, but someone up above, watching down.

"We are going to do our best to make this thing work. We are going to be the best family we can be. Because God is good all the time," said Earnest.

Saluda High School has started selling these T-Shirts that say "EnJoyeLife" to serve as a reminder for Joye Andrews and the impact she left.

The school says all donations will go towards helping supplement the family's costs. You can contact the school at: (864) 445-3011. Funeral arrangements have been planned for Saturday at 2:00pm at Saluda High School.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

****UPDATE 2:25pm 9/20*****

Saluda High School will be accepting all donations for the family at their main office in Saluda. Their address is 160 Ivory Key Road. Office number: 864-445-3011. All money will go to a fund to help the family. Funeral costs are expected to be around $4,000. Any other special requests to help family need to go through principal Dr. Harvey Livingston.

You can follow News 19 reporter Nate Stewart on twitter: @WLTXNATESTEWART.

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