Cherokee County crash survivors return to scene to mourn and search

LEESBURG, Ala. (WIAT) — Kim Learned is shedding new light on what happened in the moments before an SUV packed with seven people went plunging into the Coosa River. Learned was riding in the car, along with several close friends and family members.

UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been set up to help with the funeral expenses

“I kept yelling, and I didn’t hear anybody else,” she remembered, “and I finally got to the shore. I almost didn’t make it, because the current was taking me out…but I made it, and then came up here and was screaming for help.”

Learned said that Robert Hardin was behind the wheel at the time of the crash. She said his friend, Bobby Shore, was riding in the passenger seat.

“He kept telling him to turn around–that we were going toward the lake,” she said, “and it was like he wasn’t listening. We were screaming–telling him to turn around–that didn’t work either.”

Learned’s view was obscured from where she was sitting in the vehicle, but said that she could hear everything as they charged toward the Leesburg Landing.

“We were trying to tell him the same thing, and instead of braking, he pushed the gas and we went on in.”

Learned said that she and three others–Cheryl Hobson, Brittany Hobson, and Bobby Shore managed to get on the roof of the SUV. They fought to rescue the other three people still inside. “I tried everything,” she said through tears. “I tried opening the door to get her [Christy Hobson] out and it wouldn’t open.”

The car sank quickly. Learned called 911 from the rooftop, then had to swim to safety. She learned later that Brittany had made it to shore, but that no one else had come out of the water.

CBS42 caught up with Cheryl Hobson’s son, Billy, walking along the riverbank with Learned. They both described Hobson: “She was a wonderful person, and everybody loved her. She was amazing. There’s nothing that she wouldn’t do for anybody.”

Learned said that the family would need help with the burial of so many family members. They didn’t have a fund set up at the time. They just wanted the public to know, “We love our lost ones. We miss them, and we want them back.”

The search for Shore resumed Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. The search will continue until the body is found.

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