Victims describe surviving devastating wreck on I-485

Victims describe surviving devastating wreck on I-485


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 4:08 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Three victims of a crushing car accident on Interstate 485 say God’s will and the placement of their car behind a flatbed carrying a mobile home likely saved their lives.

One of the victims, Chris Shupe, remains in the hospital with several injuries, including multiple broken ribs, a broken leg and broken arm.

Two others in the car have already been released but are dealing with broken bones and bruising.

Shupe was driving a Prius and acting as a pilot car for a company hauling a mobile home on a flatbed down I-485 near the Providence Road exit last Wednesday.

(Click here to view photos of the scene)

The crew pulled off the interstate when plastic wrapping around the house started coming loose.

Shupe remembers talking to his best friend, Brittany Smith, and his girlfriend, Brittany Burris, who were also in the car.

The next second he was unconscious after getting hit by an SUV.

Victims say the SUV driver was going at least 65 miles an hour on the shoulder while apparently trying to program his GPS and not paying attention to the crew which had pulled over.

"The front end is in the back of a house and the back had a truck in it,” Smith said, describing the wreck.

She thought Shupe and Burris were dead.

"His face was pale white,” said Smith. "The only thing I knew to do was slap the crap out of them."

Both Shupe and Burris started coming to.

"Every time I bat my eyes, minutes went by,” said Shupe.

They were injured, but couldn’t get out of the car.  Bystanders tried to help, but the mangled metal wouldn’t budge.

"I really thought the longer I stay in this car, I'm going to die,” Smith said. "I'm stuck, I'm beating on the doors trying every which way I could to move. It hasn't even hit me that I'm in severe pain."

It took about 20 minutes to get Smith and Burris out.  It took about 40 minutes to get Shupe out of the car.
After looking at video of the crash, Shupe says two beams on the flatbed likely saved their lives. The Prius ended up between them, instead of crushed into them. Shupe and Smith say had the car smashed into the beams, they could have been decapitated.

"My car happened to line up between the beams at just the right point,” Shupe said.

"If we went a little bit either way, we wouldn't be here,” said Smith.

It will be a long recovery.

Shupe has five broken ribs, a broken arm, leg and broken vertebrae.

"My new life is pain,” said Shupe.

Smith has a broken foot, broken ankle and huge bruises.

Both are alive and describing miracles when everything around them crumbled.

"It wasn't our time. Our plan just isn't finished yet,” Smith said.

Shupe says Burris has a shattered knee and was the first to be released from the hospital.