The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 19, 2013

UPDATE: I-65 wreck kills 1, injures 3

Accident under investigation as hit-and-run

By Kim West

— One person was killed and three others injured in a wreck Tuesday night on Interstate 65 across from the Alabama Welcome Center at mile marker 363.

The accident, which occurred at about 9 p.m., is under investigation by Alabama State Troopers as a hit-and-run after a witness reported a dark-colored Chevy Silverado pickup ran a 2002 GMC Envoy sport utility vehicle off the road on I-65 North.

James Thomas Shaddy Jr., 69, of Petersburg, Tenn., died at the scene from blunt-force trauma after he was ejected from the SUV, said Limestone Coroner Mike West.

West said Shaddy was riding in the front passenger seat, and troopers said he was not wearing a seat belt. The other three occupants were injured, including the driver, Shaddy’s daughter, Jane Osgood, 44, of Fayetteville, Tenn., Shaddy’s granddaughter, Grace Osgood, 10, and Mary Beck, 72.

West said one of the injured was taken by MedFlight helicopter and two were transported by Athens EMS to Huntsville Hospital. All three were treated and released, said a hospital spokeswoman Wednesday afternoon.

“The car left the road and flipped several times,” West said. “They were traveling in the northbound lane of I-65 after they had left Athens. His group was in two carloads, and they had been at the Sportsplex for a swim meet.”

“After they (the two vehicles) hit, the man was ejected from the car,” said Daniel Bryant, assistant fire chief of the Oak Grove-Thach Volunteer Fire Department. “The (Envoy) landed in a ditch, and the front end was damaged and the top of the roof was caved in real badly.”

Bryant said the other car in the caravan was not involved in the hit-and-run.

Jonathan Barbee, press secretary for the Alabama Republican Party, is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and arrest of the driver who left the scene.

“There were about 20 of us who tried to help (Shaddy), and there were about 30 volunteer firefighters (among the first responders). The worst part of the accident was seeing the family have to go through watching him die. It’s really about accountability — that’s the whole premise behind offering the reward. And it’s about the family getting some closure to this tragedy,” said Barbee, who attempted to treat Shaddy along with other bystanders until medics arrived. “The driver who left the scene might have fallen asleep or lost control. We’ve all made mistakes driving but there’s something wrong with leaving the scene.”

Barbee, who was driving to Nashville from Birmingham and attempted to pursue the vehicle, posted a Facebook comment Tuesday night that prompted 192 shares.

“A family was literally run off the road by a coward who ran away. The kids and mom are trapped in the SUV screaming for help and hollering for their grandpa, but he wasn't in there. Then I realized he was somewhere in the vicinity. I found him about 40 yards lying in a ditch breathless …” Barbee wrote.

To report information about the vehicle or its driver, call state troopers at 256-533-4202 or the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office at 256-232-0111.

Other fatalities

The fatality was the seventh death on Limestone roads this year, and the fourth in the past two months.

Joseph “Joey” Volz, 26, of Avon Park, Fla., and William “Cody” Day, 19, of Asheville, N.C., were killed May 24 in a fiery one-vehicle wreck on U.S. 72 West near Athens.

Laura Owen Patrick, 54, of Pasadena, Texas, was killed April 14 near mile marker 363 on I-65 when she was ejected during a one-vehicle accident.

In an odd turn of events, the May 24 and April 14 accidents both involved pets that survived despite the nature of the crashes.

Patrick’s poodle was in the SUV that flipped several times and ejected her owner. Day’s puppy, Bo, averted injury despite riding in a truck that became enflamed and impacted by a tree.