NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It was a moment in time that touched the community, a crash on I-65 north where an older couple was in trouble inside a van that was starting to catch fire.
Within moments of impact with the center divider, ordinary citizens from all walks of life stopped and heroically responded.
When News 2 stopped, the van had just struck the concrete wall. The van was not moving, but the rear wheels were still spinning at highway speed, shredding, and causing a fire to begin.
While some motorists stopped traffic, another group ran to the van. Some had fire extinguishers and put out what little of the flames were left.
By phone from her Cincinnati home, Shirley Munsell said, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t know it caught fire.”
The 81-year-old told News 2 that she was in the passenger seat, listening to music when suddenly she said her husband of 62 years veered left.
“I gotta say, I don’t know all the people who stopped. I know we backed up the traffic, and I looked back and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there is a backup here.’ I was talking to my husband. He never went out as far as I know of. I don’t know what happened.”
The driver, Graham Munsell, told News 2 that he and Shirley were traveling back home from a funeral in Pensacola when the accident happened.
“I don’t recall any part of the accident, the first I recall was when I was over at the rescue vehicle,” the 84-year-old said.
Luckily, one of the Good Samaritans who stopped that day was emergency room doctor Chris Andershock, who rendered aid to Graham until medics arrived on scene. The physician said the senior appeared to have had some kind of medical incident.
“Yes, it looks like it. He just passed out. He has no recollection of the event. So, he’ll have to go to the hospital and get checked out,” said Dr. Andershock.
The doctor said the couple is fortunate that they were not seriously injured.
“Oh, it could have been much, much worse,” he adds.
Though it is a powerful image of him being carried across four lanes of traffic, Graham said he doesn’t remember it.
Graham said he grew up in New York and went to flight school in Pensacola for the Navy. In later years, he was a regional manager for an insurance company. He tells News 2 that he is extremely grateful to the heroes who helped him and his wife.
“It touched us for sure. We are extremely grateful to everyone. That’s what America is. We help people. We are hugely appreciative of all the help we received from there, from the ambulance people and hospital.”
His wife of 62 years interjected, “NASHVILLE!”
Graham laughed, “They are great. Nashville. It is one of our favorite places.”
Graham said he feels fine today, but he said he has an appointment scheduled with his cardiologist.