Trooper: 'I Am Truly A Miracle' After Fiery Crash
Posted May 2, 2006 5:25 a.m. EDT
DURHAM, N.C. — Few can forget the crash scene of a state trooper's car in Durham on March 3, with the cruiser's engine in the middle of the road and the rest of the car barely recognizable. Witnesses said they didn't think anyone survived that crash. But Trooper Jerry Brand did.
"I'm going to go on and get up out of this wheelchair without a doubt," said Brand.
The doubt two months ago was whether Brand would live. Now he says he'll walk, and maybe even run someday. He's just now able to talk about the chase that almost killed him.
A driver sped away from a license checkpoint, and Brand decided to go after him. Highway Patrol policy says it's a trooper's discretion when to give chase. If lights and sirens are on, that policy also allows troopers to exceed the speed limit.
During a chase with speeds that Brand estimates at 85-90 mph, he lost the suspect, lost control, and slammed into a utility pole.
"From what I remember why I lost control of the vehicle - a lot of people have speculated why I did that -- but it was basically the roadway," said Brand. "There was some height differences in the roadway that I wasn't familiar with, and it caused me at the speed I was going to lose control of the vehicle."
Brand said he was barely conscious immediately after the crash, when he was pulled out of his burning vehicle by witnesses. He still firmly believes the high-speed chase was the right decision.
"This situation actually didn't turn out, didn't have the greatest results, but that's what we're sworn to do, we're sworn to protect the public," he said.
Brand was a religious man before the crash. Surviving has made his faith stronger.
"I believe without a doubt that I am truly a miracle," he said. "It wasn't my turn, there's something else in store, and whatever it is I'm going to try my best to fulfill it."
Brand says the next thing in store is getting back in the patrol car when he recovers. He is still weeks away from walking. The alleged suspect in the chase, Javan Johnson, was shot to death by Durham police in a confrontation a week later.