Although the two-vehicle accident that killed Heather Copeland, of Altus, yesterday is still under investigation, there has been more information released. Copeland, 33, had stopped her vehicle on State Highway 5 a mile east of U.S. Highway 283. She had her two children, ages ten and two in her 1989 Oldsmobile with her. For some reason yet to be determined, the ten-year old was standing in front of his mother’s car.
Derrick Gipson, 32, of Tipton, was the driver of the second vehicle, a 2010 Toyota pickup truck. The truck impacted Copeland’s vehicle, which hit the 10 year-old, injuring him. The impact of the truck sent Copeland’s car into a broad-slide for about 72 feet before it rolled 3/4 times. It came to a stop on the driver’s side, and Copeland succumbed to her injuries at the site. The older boy was life-flighted for leg and trunk internal injuries. He was flown to Oklahoma City, where he is is currently in Children’s Hospital.
According to Oklahoma Highway Partrol Trooper Josh Tinsley, Gipson didn’t not show signs of impairment by any substances. Trooper Tinsley said it is standard procedure to draw blood from drivers who are involved in accidents that cause serious injury or death. The blood is now forensic evidence and is under analysis by OSBI. Final results may not be available for six to ten weeks, he said. Tinsley stated that Gipson was not arrested. The control module from Gipson’s truck will be analyzed to help determine the speed and acceleration the vehicle experienced before and during impact.
Copeland’s ten-year old son is to be interviewed today, after press time, to help determine why the family was parked there and why the boy was outside the vehicle at the time of impact. According to Trooper Tinsley, the two-year old was seated in a child safety restraint system in the back seat. It is not known at this time whether the little boy crawled out of the vehicle after the accident to be with his brother. It is hoped that the older boy may contribute more answers to this investigation.
Services for Copeland are pending at the Kincannon Funeral Home.