MILLERSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Robertson County man is lucky to be alive after he drove his pickup truck under a parked semi on the ramp of I-65 in Millersville.
The stretch of I-65 is known as “The Ridge.” Exits 98-104 are where Millersville Police Department (MPD) officers say 80% of their wrecks take place.
According to MPD stats, there were 157 wrecks there in the last year. So far this year, there has been one fatal crash, one officer’s police cruiser hit and 57 people injured.
Police say Thursday’s wreck took place on the off-ramp at Exit 104.
It happened around 6:15 p.m., when a driver, now identified as Edward Gafford Jr., 46, took his eyes off the road and then slammed violently into the back of a semi that was parked on the side of the ramp.
Pictures obtained by News 2 show the Silverado’s airbags deployed, the steering wheel bent, the dash and center console touching and even the speedometer frozen at just under 50 miles per hour.
Body cam video from an arriving officer showed the driver, Gafford Jr, walking to a waiting ambulance. He had an arm injury and was covered with blood.
The officer asks the 46-year-old Robertson County man, “Hey sir, what happened?”
Gafford: “I was lighting a cigarette.”
When asked if he was under the influence of anything, the 46-year-old driver told investigators he took over-the-counter medication.
Officer: “It appears you are under the influence of something.”
Gafford: “Over the counter, yes.”
Officer: “Okay, what did you take?”
Gafford: “Either aspirin or Tylenol. I can’t remember. I took a handful of them.”
According to Millersville police, on his ride to the hospital, Gafford reportedly told paramedics he took Xanax and Valium.
When Gafford initially refused to go to the hospital, MPD officers tell him, “You are going to be taken into custody for suspicion of DUI.”
After a failed field sobriety test, an officer read Gafford his rights.
Police didn’t arrest Gafford after he opted to go to the hospital to have his arm checked out.
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The following was part of a discussion with the Robertson county man prior to transport:
Gafford: “She can verify, I started my sobriety. I’ve been clean.”
Officer: “Okay, for how long?”
Gafford: “Eight days.”
Officer: “Eight days?”
Officer: “What was you addicted to?”
“I feel like the only reason he is here is cause he was wearing his seatbelt,” said Field Training Officer Jonathan Lassiter. “If he didn’t have his belt on he’d have gone up through the windshield, possibly hit the back of the trailer with his head or anything.”
“By what he told us, had he been paying attention, at the bare minimum he probably would not have slammed into the back of the trailer,” added Patrol Officer Wendell Harris.
The driver went to Tristar Skyline Medical Center because of his hand injury, meanwhile, Millersville police got a warrant to get his blood to continue their DUI investigation.
Gafford has a prior arrest record in Georgia and Robertson County for burglary years ago, according to Millersville police.
A check of Gafford’s record in Metro shows mostly driving infractions.