KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The truck driver charged in an early morning wreck that sent a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper to the hospital in critical condition has been charged with Aggravated Assault and Reckless Endangerment.
Eric Dwayne Lewis, 32, reportedly told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel. No charges were filed against the passenger in the semi 57 year-old Cleotha Nickles.
The trooper, who was identified as Lowell Russell, was stopped alongside I-40 West near Gallaher View Rd., finishing up some paperwork following a traffic stop around 3:00 a.m. when the semi hit his cruiser from behind.
The vehicle was wedged against a wall and erupted in flames with the officer inside.
"Sgt. Russell is one of those people, you meet him you remember him, he's a good guy," said Trooper Randall Martin.
Sgt Martin worked with Trooper Lowell Russell for more than fourteen years.
"I think with any Officer you can see yourself in a similar position and that's disturbing especially when you know this could have been avoided," said Trooper Martin.
Tim Suter, AMR Director of Operations, said his crew saw the commotion. When they got there Russell's car was still spinning, then it caught fire, right in front of them.
"The crew was devastated by the accident it was an emotional response for them," said Suter.