Conway restaurant doubles as a shelter after massive vehicle crash

CONWAY, Mo. Many of those people involved in a chain reaction crash near Conway were bussed to a local restaurant, which served as a shelter off the side of the highway.

The Rocking Chair Restaurant was packed with people who were trying to process the horrific ordeal they went through Sunday afternoon.

A handful of people did their best to comfort them.

"We were discussing about closing down early because there wouldn't be very many people coming in," said restaurant owner, Jeannie Bunch.

She couldn't have been more wrong.

Dozens of people, with nowhere to go, stumbled onto the doorstep of her restaurant.

"It has happened before but the accidents weren't quite as extensive as they were last night," she said.

Suzanne Beal and Carla Dame took charge.

"Actually I'm kind of tired," said Dame.

Beal, "I think that's why we got home and we couldn't sleep though."

"I know. I couldn't sleep at all," said Dame.

Chad Youngblood handled the cooking.

Sheila Holliday kept everything clean.

Giggles aside, everyone is still trying to deal with their emotions.

"For the first hour I think people were still in shock. It took them a little while to calm down, you know, get their bearings. Then they started getting hungry. A lot of them was thirsty and cold. I couldn't imagine going through something like they did. Pretty horrific," said Beal.

Even a day later, Beal still has tears in her eyes.

"I guess I've never been that close to it, around a situation like that, that up close and personal with them and getting to talk to them and their reactions. Seeing them upset and cry, just all the emotions everybody had, it was rough. I think we kind of, we tried to kind of lighten up, get their spirits back up and think that everything was going to be okay. It turned out good," she said.

Dame didn't think the restaurant would be so crowded.

"I just thought there'd be a few because I figured a lot of them would have found a ride to someplace else. I was glad they came here," she said.

"The driver of the bus, he stayed the whole time making sure that everyone was taken care of. He bussed that school team to Lebanon to stay the night in a hotel. They worked hard, everybody around here," said Beal.

Dame said, "Race, religion, politics, it didn't matter. We all came together last night. We were a wonderful team."

"They didn't think twice about it. All of them pulled together. They didn't mind to stay late," said Beal.

Dame said, "I don't know about anybody else. Me and Suzanne we just couldn't sleep, kept thinking, wish we could have done more."

"We're just always here to help out if we can help anyone out," said Bunch.

A few of the regular customers also pitched in. They helped to serve people and even donated money towards the cost of meals for the people in the accident.