Story and photos by colin krieger
A Tennessee man who had a few too many adult beverages miraculously walked away with just a scratch after he launched his car off of the 82 bypass during a weekend visit to the Friendly City.
Phillip A. Wilson, Jr, age 30, told Columbus Police he’d “had a few drinks” after he and his grandmother’s car were found laying in the grass underneath the Military Road overpass of Highway 82 shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday.
Steve Hatcher, a Lieutenant with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, was on routine patrol when he came across the mangled wreckage of a 2007 Buick Lucerne sitting on the west shoulder of Military Road, directly between the twin overpass of Highway 82. Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle paramedics, along with Columbus police and fire crews were immediately called to the scene to examine Wilson, who had suffered a moderate cut to his forehead.
Wilson, who hails from Jackson, TN, was apparently heading East on the bypass when he rammed the guardrail that runs along the shoulder of the road as it approaches the bridge that crosses Military Road. According to rescue workers on scene, it appeared that Wilson’s sedan hit the guardrail, which runs East to West just before it connects with the overpass, approximately nine feet before it connects with the bridge. Skid marks left on the highway seemed to indicate that the Buick was headed Northeast at the time of impact and that Wilson did not slam on his braked until the front bumper of the car was about to ram the barrier.
The platinum metallic grey Lucerne decimated the barrier and then briefly took flight and toppled in between the two bridges, bumbling its way down the cement embankment and eventually coming to rest over 100 feet from where it left the roadway. The sedan, which deployed seven of its eight airbags during the multiple impacts, protected Wilson, who was wearing his seatbelt from significant injury- leaving him with only a shallow cut to right forehead as a memento. (A rescue worker pointed out that the only airbag that did not deploy was the one inside of the steering wheel. Had it inflated, the rescue worker hypothesized that it may have caused more harm than good in this particular situation. In many accidents, the airbag in the steering wheel causes facial bruising when it cushions the driver’s head from the impact-CK)
The wild ride left the sedan peeled apart like a can of sardines, with the front end in ruin, the hood peeled back onto the windshield, and the passenger side in tatters. As Wilson calmly chatted with first responders, a CPD officer examining the scene yelled down from the concrete embankment, “Hey! We found your door, Bud!”
Wilson confessed to officers that he had been drinking earlier in the evening and submitted to a field sobriety test. After suspicions were aroused during his wobbly performance, Wilson then submitted to a breathalyzer test. Just as an officer advised Wilson he should celebrate his good fortune and “get to church first thing in the morning”, Wilson was informed that he was over the limit — and under arrest.
Wilson was charged with driving under the influence and transported to the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.