A local couple who had just purchased a classic car for Cruisin’ the Coast were crashed into days later, crushing those plans, but leaving them counting their blessings.
Jarrod and Cassidi Hankins had just been visiting the grave of fellow classic car enthusiast Brenton Ulmer when a Mazda driven by Lynn Breland slammed into the side of the 1959 Edsel they had just traded their Harley-Davidson motorcycle for less than a week earlier.
They had been at the cemetery with Ulmer’s family and were headed to PDI in his memory when the wreck occurred at Audubon Drive and 7th Avenue last Friday. It was tough luck after getting the car from a man in Forest the previous Sunday. But the way Cassidi Hankins sees it, they could have just as easily been going back to the cemetery with their own families being the ones mourning.
“We traded our bike for this,” said Cassidi Hankins, a 27-year-old teacher at East Jones Elementary and former reporter for WHLT and the Leader-Call. “If we hadn’t, we would’ve been in the same place at the same time on our motorcycle.”
They planned to take the Edsel — a car that was manufactured by Ford Motor Co. for only three years, 1958- 60, and turned out to be a commercial failure but has a devoted following among car enthusiasts — to the annual Cruisin’ the Coast this weekend.
“It was such a great deal,” she said. “Everything on it was original, except the interior. Even the windows and paint were original.”
They had longer-range plans for their find, too, that involved their son Collin.
“It would’ve been something he and his daddy could’ve worked on together as he grows up,” she said. “We were just thinking they would be making minor improvements, though, not a complete restoration. It didn’t need that.”
It does now. But that brought to light another blessing — little Collin wasn’t in the car, which was smashed on the rear quarter panel on the driver’s side, spun around and slammed into a stop sign.
“We were absolutely blessed,” she said.
She wasn’t sure if they were going to try to work on the car themselves, get a body shop to do it or if they’d try to trade it for something else. They do know that they won’t be able to drive it to Crusin’ on the Coast.
But just being around at all to go anywhere had them taking inventory of their own lives, particularly as they were paying respects to one who was lost too soon. Ulmer was killed in a crash in Coffeeville, Ala., in March 2017 while driving a truck for Tanner Construction. He was 29.
“We had big plans to enjoy it at Cruising the Coast, but God had other plans,” Cassidi Hankins wrote in a Facebook post after the wreck. “Collin wasn’t with us, and Jarrod and I are ok. Glory be to God. He is so so good.”