true crime

You just never know…

A friend of mine just shared this Facebook post with me.

I don’t know this woman at all, but after I read her post about the terrible car accident she was in, I took a look at her Facebook page. It appears that she has a wonderful life with loving family members and many friends. Like me, she was recently in Scotland. It looks like she enjoyed a bucket list vacation last month, which also included a stop in Brussels, Belgium, another one of my favorite places. I can see that she has a lot of good people around her, and some of them were also having fun with Sharp in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On September 29, 2019, Pat Sharp was riding in the third back seat of a car in Frankfort, Kentucky when she was in a horrific car accident.

Jerry Elder, of Flint, Michigan barreled down Interstate 64 at about 70 miles per hour in his fully loaded 18 wheeler semi. He had his cruise control set, but his attention was fixed on the cellphone mounted on his dashboard. He was watching a video on YouTube while driving through a construction zone. Consequently, Elder was distracted, and didn’t notice that traffic had slowed down. Instead of braking to avoid causing an accident, he collided with a Jeep Liberty, killing its driver, 61 year old Jeffrey Curtis. The truck then hit two more vehicles and a Ford Explorer. Elder and Trina Summers, the driver of the Explorer, were taken to a hospital with non life threatening injuries. I’m guessing Pat Sharp was also in the Explorer, along with four other people.

When Elder was released from the hospital, he was initially charged with manslaughter and taken to the Franklin County Regional Jail. Looking at Elder’s details on the jail’s Web site, I see that he’s now been charged with murder, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and two counts of wanton endangerment. His bond is set at $500,000, and he has already pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. I wonder what in the world was so important on YouTube that Elder had to endanger so many innocent people’s lives that day. Curiously, he was also not wearing corrective lenses required by his commercial drivers’ license and medical card. What the hell was he thinking?

Pat Sharp is now looking for the nurse who stayed in the back seat with her while she waited to be rescued. She says the nurse comforted her and helped her stay alert and breathing while the paramedics worked on freeing her and everyone else in the car. I can’t help Sharp with her quest, except to write this post about her accident. Maybe someone reading my blog knows the nurse who helped her on the day that changed her life, probably forever. She spent a week in the hospital in Frankfort after the wreck, and will no doubt now have big medical bills to pay, as well as legal issues to attend to, since I’m sure she will be a witness when Elder goes on trial.

Reading about this accident makes me realize that, once again, you just never know when something horrible is going to happen. I woke up a little while ago, thinking about how mundane my life is most days. I don’t really have to worry about much, which causes me to sweat the small stuff or things that I can’t control. But I think about people who find themselves in suddenly horrific situations like Pat Sharp was in last month. Things can change in the blink of an eye, and all it takes is someone who would rather watch YouTube while driving than pay attention to the road.

I have no idea what kind of a person Jerry Elder is. I see from his booking photo that he doesn’t appear to be a country club type. I’m sure he has friends and family, though. Most people have someone in their lives who care about them, and I’m sure that’s true for Jerry Elder, too. He probably didn’t even consider that he could wind up killing someone that day and land in jail on murder charges. Most of the people involved in the wreck didn’t know each other, and yet fate brought them together in the form of a tragic, deadly accident.

Jeffrey “Jeffro” Curtis was a man with a green thumb who inspired loving memories from friends, and a request for donations to the Kentuckiana Blues Society. I wonder if he was listening to the blues when Elder’s semi rammed into the back of his jeep. I see he had a fiancee, friends, and family members, and all of them are now left to mourn his death.

I’ve been on Interstate 64 myself many, many times. It runs through Virginia and is the Interstate closest to Gloucester, Virginia, which is where I grew up. I’ve never been in a bad car accident myself, but I know a lot of people who have. It just goes to show you that life is short and precious, and people have no business using cell phones while driving.

I’ve already said a prayer for everyone involved in this wreck, including Jerry Elder. It sounds like he was careless and negligent, which unfortunately led to someone losing his life. It goes to show that actions have consequences, and even the most minor choices can irreparably affect other people in devastating ways. God be with Pat Sharp, and everyone else who was involved in the deadly accident. I’m going to try to be more careful myself, having read about this. You just never know when your life will change… or end.