A survivor of Friday’s crash on Interstate 95 that left two people seriously injured, including a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, says that it was “the scariest thing of my life.”
"I heard the initial rumble strips, I turned around and looked and he hit the car -- and that's when I remember seeing the [trooper’s] car just fly up in the air," Gary Lee Williams said Saturday.
Sitting at his home, Williams, 57, of Deerfield Beach, gave a chilling account of the collision that seriously injured both Trooper Felicia Andrews, 33, and the driver whose vehicle allegedly rammed into Andrews' car, Derek Adam Nelson, 33, of Miami Beach.
Williams was the only person of those involved in the crash who was not taken to a hospital, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
What Williams saw was the trooper’s patrol car crunched into a heap of metal, in accordion-like fashion. Williams ran to help Andrews, who he said only a moment earlier had been so kind to him. He remembered seeing her facial injuries.
"She was saying something, kind of incoherent,” he said. “She was actually trying to get out of the car.”
He and another good Samaritan told Andrews not to move, telling her that help was on the way.
“I just have tears coming out of my eyes,” he said. “How could she survive that accident? The way I saw that car, I've never seen in my life something like that."
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Also hard to believe, Williams said, was how he himself survived the crash. He was standing outside his vehicle, just a few feet away from the trooper, when he realized he was in danger.
"I saw the car coming at me, and all these things blowing past me, and I thought I better move,” he said.
Saturday, Andrews, a three-year trooper, remained at a hospital, listed in serious but stable condition with multiple injuries, according to the Highway Patrol.
Charges against Nelson, who also was listed in stable condition at an area hospital, were pending the outcome of an investigation, the Highway Patrol said.
Two other drivers -- Jinnie Mathurin, 43, of Coral Springs; and Catherine A. Soumerai, 59, of Boca Raton -- also were taken to hospitals. Their injuries reportedly weren’t as severe as the others involved, officials said.
The events began about 5 p.m. Friday as a small fender-bender involving three vehicles in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95. When Andrews responded to investigate the collision, her patrol car and the three other vehicles all were pulled over in the emergency lane.
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Then Nelson’s black 2007 Chevrolet pickup came at a high rate of speed and slammed into the rear of the trooper's car, setting off a chain-reaction crash, the Highway Patrol said.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 95 were temporarily closed during the investigation. They were reopened four hours after the crash.
Williams’ wife, Carol Williams, said she responded to the crash site and had eagerly waited for troopers to tell her husband’s condition.
“A few officers told me, ‘You know your husband had a miracle today?’” she said. “It’s a miracle what happened to him.”