Special Report: Grayling Golf Team: One Year Later

A high school golf team is on the road to recovery after being involved in a deadly accident one year ago.

Two families have stepped forward to share their stories about how they got through troubling time.

A van carrying members of the Grayling High School Golf Team, and another van collided at the corner of County Road 612 and Crawford Lake Road in Kalkaska County April 29th, 2013.

Police say speed was a factor. In all, ten people were in the crash. The accidents claimed the lives of golf player Louis Menard, coach Jason Potter and Cassandra Stapleton who was in the other vehicle. Tyler Summers, Jacob Hinkle, Dallas Johnson, Mason Krey, and Gunner Metzer were also injured in the crash.

9&10’s Katie Boomgaard spoke with two families who volunteered to share their recovery in tonight’s Special Report.

“It was kind of like walking through a dream, it really was. There is no explaining it, definitely the worst day of my life for sure,” said Jody Hinkle, Jake’s mother. 

Five golfers were in the hospital for days and even months recovering from serious injuries. Tyler Summers said, “I remember leaving the high school parking lot and that’s it. Then waking up in a hospital and thinking why am I here.”

Tyler had some of the worst injuries. It would be a long road to recovery for him and his family. “I went through speech therapy. I’m still in that once a week and then occupational therapy, vision therapy and physical therapy which I’m all done with.  I think it made me a stronger and better person because before I would take things for granted and now I don’t.  I rely on my family to be there when I need them to be and this great community.”

As players begin to set new goals, so does the new coach. Beth Wheeler was extremely close to Jason Potter and says his legacy will live on. Beth Wheeler says, “He’d wanted to coach that team every year and he finally got it, it was his dream. We knew exactly what he wanted for those boys and so we figured we were the ones, we could do it the best, we could represent Jason the way he wanted it to be. This year is definitely the emotions are calmer, everybody is moving forward but nobodies forgetting that was an awful awful thing. Every coaches nightmare, every parents nightmare. But these boys are, I mean they’re ready to go.”

One way the community and the golf team will always remember Coach Potter and Louie is by creating a fire pit at the golf course. They will also have a plaque here that will explain the accident and its story, so it’ll never be forgotten.

“It’s going to be a fun place, it’s not going to be somber. It’s going to be a celebration. It’s hard to move forward sometimes but I think something like this really helps, I mean to have it there as a reminder not to be sad but to celebrate,” explained Beth Wheeler.

The one year anniversary has now come and gone, but the memories will live on and the team will continue to be Grayling Strong.

“We all pulled together, when things were the worst,” said Jake Hinkle. “We have to start moving forward as well into our new normal and let ourselves feel like we can live again,” Jody Hinkle said. 

Coach Wheeler says they hope to have a dedication ceremony for the fire pit sometime this month at the Grayling Country Club.