NASH COUNTY, N.C. — Rolland Ellis says he's a lucky man -- lucky to be with the people he loves, and lucky to be alive.
"It was just a bat of your eyes," said Ellis about the accident that happened on Highway 64 in Nash County Thursday afternoon.
A truck pulling a trailer slammed into the back of a cruiser while Ellis, his granddaughter and a state trooper were trying to fix her disabled car. He said they were all just standing there when he heard a loud noise.
"The next thing I remember is laying in the ditch," said Ellis. "By force or whatever, pushing, all three of us were in the ditch.
In what seemed like a fraction of a second, Ellis said Trooper Byron Varnell pushed all three of them out of the way. Varnell said it was just instinct.
"I shook his hand and hugged his neck right there in the street," said Ellis.
Besides a little stiffness in his right hand, Ellis said he's okay. But without that Varnell, he knows it could be a much different story.
"I don't think neither one of us would be here today," he said.
Ellis said he went to work Friday and everyone told him to go home after that ordeal.
The truck's driver, Christopher Campbell, told WRAL that an 18-wheeler pulled in front of him. He refused any other comment. Campbell was charged with reckless driving.