By Will Vandervort
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday afternoon that they are very fortunate that defensive tackle Carlos Watkins is okay.
Watkins, a reserve defensive tackle for the third-ranked Tigers, was a passenger in his own car with two of his former teammates at Chase High School en route to a cookout Saturday afternoon when the car they were in hydroplaned on a rain-slicked road as it attempted to negotiate a left turn off Old Henrietta Road onto Providence Church Road in Rutherford County.
Sgt. Kevin Owens of the North Carolina Highway Patrol told The Clemson Insider early Sunday morning the car hit a large power pole which snapped off about four feet up. The car had rolled and the pole landed on the car.
“It was a very scary situation for (Watkins),” Swinney told the media during his weekly teleconference. “Hopefully he will return (Monday), but there was a fatality as part of the crash and Carlos was not the driver. He was a passenger in the car.”
One passenger was ejected and passed away, while Watkins was trapped in the passenger’s seat for more than 60 minutes as rescuers cut live power lines then removed him from the car. Watkins was taken to a local hospital for treatment then transported to a trauma center in Asheville.
The driver was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured. There was no evidence that alcohol or drugs was involved in the accident.
“It’s a really tough situation for him right now,” Swinney said. “Hopefully he will be back (on Monday) and we will put our arms around him and help him get through this.
“I have talked to him and he thinks he is fine. They checked him our pretty well, the biggest thing is that he was kind of compressed in the car in his chest area for over two hours before they could get him out of the car. They kept him at the hospital for observations but he was doing pretty well as of this morning from an injury standpoint so he is very fortunate. He is very, very fortunate.”