Texas father speaks after near fatal I-65 crash - WKRN News 2

Texas father speaks after near fatal I-65 crash

Posted: Updated: Dec 7, 2012 04:17 PM
Teddy Howard was nearly crushed by a deputy's patrol car hit from behind by a passing motorist. Teddy Howard was nearly crushed by a deputy's patrol car hit from behind by a passing motorist.
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -

The driver who smashed into a Williamson County deputy's patrol car while he was writing a traffic ticket Monday morning on Interstate 65 in Spring Hill will not be charged.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 47-year-old Debra Benefield tried to move over but when a vehicle was in the lane beside her she overcorrected and broadsided the deputy's vehicle.

Nobody was seriously injured in the horrific crash, including the Texas father of two who was sitting on the guard rail when it all went down.

Teddy Howard had just been pulled over for a traffic violation.  The impact of the crash propelled the deputy's patrol car forward, nearly crushing the 30-year-old father.

Howard works on a tow boat in the petroleum industry.  He is currently off the coast of New Orleans and spoke with Nashville's News 2 by phone Thursday night.

"I was on my way back from a funeral in Michigan where I just buried my grandma, my dad's mom died," Howard explained.  "I was coming back, heading back to Texas, passing through Tennessee. Two officers pulled me over, before they got back to me, I guess they were running my license, so before they could get out of the vehicle, the lady came out of nowhere in a white minivan and smashed into us. I didn't see it right of way but I kind of reacted to it and I got out of the way just in time."

He continued, "The van flipped over in the air a couple of times and when I looked up, I could see the van flipping over me and it was like you see in a movie, really. I tumbled down that guard rail and I gathered myself and I checked on the officers.  I couldn't assist them too well, the way the impact was, they were really trapped in that vehicle and there was nothing I could do, but I did see they were alive."

Howard said he next ran toward the minivan.

"I tried to get her attention, and it looked like she was conscious," he said of Benefield.  "I got her to open the sun roof and helped her to get out carefully, without causing any further injury."

He added, "I was making sure she was okay. I was talking to her, [telling her to] breathe and calm down."

While he wasn't seriously injured, the near-death experience was frightening.

"I called my dad, later that evening. My dad said to me, ‘the Lord had his hands on me.'"

He continued, "You can do everything right and stuff can still go wrong. Always be prayerful and optimistic sometimes someone else can mess you up and affects you."

While the woman who caused the wreck was not cited, Howard was for simple possession of pot, which was found in his rental car.

With the demands of his job and having just helped his father with the financial cost of burying his grandmother, Howard is unsure how he'll get back to Middle Tennessee to face his court date. 

"I am in a financial bind," he said. "I just had enough gas money to get [back to work] and don't know how I will get back for my court date because I am off shore."

Still, Howard has no hard feelings.

"I have no negativity, the two officers pulling me over, they were just checking to see if I did anything wrong," he said.  "The new officers came on the scene and added insult to injury, it is unfortunate, but I am not bitter about it, I'm not sure where [the marijuana] came from, but I'll take responsibility for it and go from there."

A local attorney questions the charges saying the crash creates probable cause issues.

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