THP ID's truck driver accused of falling asleep, crashing into trooper

By: Sharee Gilbert Email
By: Sharee Gilbert Email
A Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper is in critical condition after a semi truck hit him while parked on the shoulder on I-40W near Gallaher view Rd. early Tuesday morning.

Trooper Lowell Russell (Courtesy: THP)

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.

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  • by John Location: TN on Mar 16, 2012 at 04:14 PM
    People are making comments for and against this driver. He chose to drive while he was fatigued and they found "inconsistencies" in his logbook. If he would have stopped and got some rest, this whole incident could have been avoided but instead, he has put a TN State Trooper in the hospital in critical condition and he's facing felony charges. He admitted to being fatigued and having to splash water on his face but he chose to continue to drive. He made a bad call and as far as the charges against him, he'll have his day in court like anyone else would.
  • by Scott Location: TN on Mar 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM
    What would everyone be saying if this guy fell asleep at the wheel and killed someone? What if he killed your child or spouse? Shouldn't he be charged under those circumstances? If he was so sleepy that he had to splash his face with water, he should have stopped driving and rested. I'm with Joe, I would like to see his driving record and his logbook to see when he had rested last.
  • by Joe Location: Tazewell on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM
    I hate that this accident happened but let's take into account that this guy was driving a semi and not a Volkswagon. The reason that it's harder to get a CDL is because these trucks are so dangerous and the drivers need to know their limitations. If the driver had already stopped a few times to splash water on his face because he was sleepy, he should have parked his truck and got some rest. I would also like to know what his driving record looks like as well as his logbook. As for the comments that he shouldn't have charges against him, he still has his right to a trial and everything that we haven't been told will be brought out then so let the court decide if he is innocent or not.
  • by Steve Location: Knoxville on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM
    This officer, arrested me a few weeks ago, doing his job. I really wish this guy a speedy recovery, I really do.
  • by okay Location: tn on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM
    why felony charges? cause it was a cop hit, a cop of any kind even off duty or a police dog and they bury you under the jail. If the officer was off duty and drunk they would wait several hour before an blood test on the officer.(like in sevier county a couple of years ago) It is not a black issue. I am sorry anyone was hurt. This is sad, but an accident. This man was trying to do his job. I'm sure a blood sample was taken and will be tested. Was this trooper in a bad location for doing paperwork? This is so sad i hope and pray that he can make a full recovery. I hope and pray that this truck driver can have a life after this.
  • by Truth Location: Knoxville on Mar 14, 2012 at 08:46 AM
    My prayers go to the trooper family. And the Lewis family. I think this is just unreal. Why would is guy be charged for the felonies when this trooper was on the far left lane giving a ticket when you are supposed to be on the far right lane. This is really ridiculous. If this was a white man they wouldn't give these charges. Plus the Lewis guy helped pulled the trooper out. I hope this guy gets a fair trial. I rarely hear bout a black man falling asleep behind the wheel. I know more white people fall asleep behind the wheels. Praying for you Lewis..
    • reply
      by Billie on Mar 17, 2012 at 05:00 PM in reply to Truth
      What proof do you have that more white people fall asleep behind the wheel? I have tried to find "Official" reports on this but cannot find anything saying who falls asleep behind the wheel more than anyone else. In all actuality, I don't care if he was a little green man from Mars, if he hadn't been driving while he was so fatigued, this wouldn't have happened.
  • by Justice Location: Knoxville on Mar 14, 2012 at 07:12 AM
    First of all my prayers go out to the officer, I hope you have speedy recovery. I think its wrong that you charge someone with crime thats has a accident. I guess thats price being a black man. People fall asleep all the time on the roads. I see no criminal intent.

  • by Justice Location: Knoxville on Mar 14, 2012 at 07:08 AM
    First of all my prayers go out to the officer, I hope you have speedy recovery. I think its wrong that you charge someone with crime thats has a accident. I guess thats price being a black man. People fall asleep all the time on the roads. I see no criminal intent.

  • by Brenda Location: Rutledge on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:43 PM
    Lowell we love you and are praying for you. God is watching over you as you fight to stay with us. God bless you and your family.
  • by Tiff Location: Knoxville on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:12 PM
    Tell Estrada it's not very respectful to refer to him in the past tense like she did on 11 o'clock news!! I mean, come on!!!


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