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Man crawls from overturned tractor-trailer

By Holly Hollman · 340-2445

ATHENS — A Huntsville man who lost a son and stepson in previous accidents crawled safely from wreckage on U.S. 72 in Athens on Tuesday.

“That’s where I was penned, right there,” said driver James Edward Gray Jr., 64, as he pointed to the crashed cab of his tractor- trailer truck.

Broken glass from the windows littered the highway where the driver’s side smashed into the pavement.

“It looks bad, but I crawled out of the passenger side window with nothing but a bump on my head,” Gray said.

Gray was hauling a backhoe on the truck’s trailer when he approached the traffic light in front of Bojangles and Starbucks east of Interstate 65 at 7:26 a.m.

He was taking the backhoe to Calhoun Community College for his company, Bowers Plumbing.

“The light changed, and the car in front of me stopped, and I couldn’t stop,” Gray said. “I swerved to miss it and a car that was turning, and flipped in the median.”

The truck and backhoe blocked one eastbound lane, so Athens police restricted eastbound traffic to the outside lane. The morning rush hour traffic backed up to U.S. 31.

“I called my wife to tell her I had a wreck but was OK, and it shook her up,” Gray said. “I’ve lost a son and a stepson to wrecks. You always carry that loss with you. I’ve never been in a bad one myself until (Tuesday). I know I’m lucky.”

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