Double amputee encourages students to drive safely

Published: Nov. 28, 2018 at 8:35 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On. Oct. 11, Hanover firefighter Lt. Brad Clark was killed when someone slammed into the fire engine he was on while he and others were working an accident on I-295.

On Nov. 25, a fire engine was responding to a crash on Chippenham Parkway when a driver rear ended it causing the engine to spin into the middle lane. Fortunately no one was hurt.

That same day, a suspected drunk driver slammed into a marked Chesterfield police cruiser at Lewis and Bradley Bridge roads Again, no life was lost.

“This is an epidemic, this is something that’s happening every single day,” said crash survivor Brad Hughes, who knows this type of accident all too well.

“I’m not angry, I’m not bitter,” said Hughes, who lost both of his legs in 2014 after a crash on Midlothian Turnpike and Powhite Parkway.

He had pulled over to assist an officer who was helping a stranded driver on an icy day. A driver crashed into Hughes' SUV pinning him between his car and the stranded one.

“I lost my legs because somebody was being distracted, somebody took their eyes off the road," Hughes said.

It’s why Hughes is took part in this Come Home Alive program to reinforce safe teen driving and to warn against dangerous behavior like texting and driving.

“But we also tell the parents your kids learn everything from you," Hughes said of the program held at schools throughout the county.

A law enforcement officer, insurance agent and attorney rounded out the program Tuesday night at Midlothian High School. But Hughes' story was a personal that hopefully stuck.

"I hope so, but it’s my responsibility to follow up and be a good example,” said Jimmy Holdren, a parent who attended.

“My child will be driving here soon and I need him to understand how important this is and I need to know what’s going on," said parent Allison Hunter.

“One thing I really never understood is why people continue to text and drive and continue to do all these thing when it’s bashed into their brains and taught to them through their lives multiple times so I never understood that,” said student Terry Evans.

Hughes stressed the importance of the move over law in Virginia: to give first responders and others room when they’re working on the road. And he’d like to see the penalties for breaking the law increased.

“If you see those lights a quarter of a mile down the road, you have ample time to move over," Hughes said. "And if you can’t move over you need to slow down because their lives matter just as much as yours.”

Hughes says he’d like to see the move over law expended to include school buses, mail carriers and garbage collectors.

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