Dudley man loses leg, not faith after 18-wheeler crash
Posted April 30, 2013
Dudley, N.C. — Floydie Harris remembers waking up face down in a muddy ditch next to an 18-wheeler the morning of Jan. 31. His legs broken and mangled, he waved his hands and screamed for help.
Moments earlier, the 45-year-old Dudley man had been clearing a fence line on his Wayne County farm when he heard the unmistakable rumble of a tractor-trailer’s Jake brake, an engine braking mechanism that some say sounds similar to a machine gun.
Startled by the loud noise, he turned around and said, "Oh my God!" as the trailer collapsed on him.
“I remember seeing the trailer, feeling it slap me down,” Harris said. “I remember looking at my legs and seeing how they were twisted, and my feet were facing back at me, and I remember feeling the blood pumping down my pants leg. I immediately started praying.”
Nearly three months later, Harris says the crash that altered his body and his life has not altered his faith.
“I know God has a plan. If God didn’t have a plan, I would’ve been dead underneath that truck right now," he said. "I think God preserved my life, that I can be a better servant for Him, that I can teach my boys to be better servants for Him."
The truck severed Harris’ right leg, broke his left leg in seven places and left him with head and back trauma. Doctors performed about a dozen surgeries on him, including inserting a steel rod to hold his left leg together, and there are more surgeries to come.
The injuries made it impossible for Harris to continue working as a general contractor, so his oldest son stepped in to helped with the business.
"I’ve been the sole income for our family for almost 20 years. Now, to have my way of life jeopardized, there’s been a lot stolen from me when you look at it that way. But I can’t harbor malice in my heart for an accident," Harris said.
Harris family members say they have not heard from the driver or the company, Guy Shavender Trucking, Inc., in Pantego.
The driver, Marcellus Humphrey of Jacksonville, N.C., survived the crash and was charged with failure to maintain control. Troopers say the 61-year-old swerved to avoid hitting an oncoming tractor-trailer on the narrow road.
Harris' wife, Rhonda Harris, says she came upon the crash and helped Humphrey get out of the truck, not realizing her husband was injured nearby.
"I immediately began to call 911, because I saw somebody inside the cab of the truck that was struggling to get out," she said. "I climbed up onto the hood of the 18-wheeler."
Another driver stopped to help and asked, "Who is the man laying face down embedded in the ground behind the truck?" Rhonda Harris recalled. She jumped off the truck, fearing it might be her husband, and ran to the unknown man's aid.
"I just started praying, 'Please don’t let it be my husband,'" she said.
After realizing what happened, she took off her jacket and tried to rip off the arm so she could use it as a tourniquet to stop her husband's bleeding. When she couldn't rip the jacket's fabric, she and another driver got her husband's belt and tied it around his leg.
“I remember laying my head on his back and asking if he was awake. Could he hear me? Was he in pain? He said, ‘I’m alive. I do feel some pain,’” Rhonda Harris recalled.
In the months since the crash, the Harris's extended family and church family have offered prayers and support for Floydie Harris, who still can’t put any weight on his left leg. He hopes to start rehabilitation soon and possibly try crutches. Despite the challenges, he and his wife have maintained a positive attitude.
"He didn’t lose both his legs. He didn’t die. He didn’t lose his arms. He still has his mental faculties … He can hug us. He can talk to us," Rhonda Harris said. "When you get to the point that God is all you have, you realize He is all you need."
Floydie Harris has used the experience to teach his family about being grateful for each day.
"A half a second is the difference between me standing up there working and me laying face down in the mud, crying out to my God," he said. "Every second’s precious … We must be right with God at all times, because you might not have the next second to get things right."
The Harris's church is accepting donations for the family. Donations can be sent to:
Floydie Harris Family
c/o Faith Free Will Baptist Church
1200 W. Grantham St.
Goldsboro, N.C. 27530