Good Samaritans seriously hurt after being hit on I-95 while helping man change tire


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Two Good Samaritans tell 8News they have a long road to recovery after a car slammed into them while they helped a person change a flat tire.

What started out as a good deed ended with two men spending four days at the VCU Medical Center. The accident occurred on Interstate-95 North near Maury Street (Exit 73) in downtown Richmond on June 30.

David Gower, one of the men hit, is now confined to a neck brace with limited mobility, telling 8News he’s lucky to be alive.

“I have 3 broken vertebrae in my back and a fractured hip,” he said. “I knew something was wrong with my neck because I felt it snap.”

Released from the hospital on the Fourth of July, Gower says he returned home with bruises, cuts, and an open wound on his foot where a piece of headlight was removed.

“I just said car, car, car – watch out – car,” Gower said, recounting what he’s calling a near death experience.

Gower says he and a friend were driving on I-95 when they spotted a young man stranded with a flat tire, later finding out that he was 19-years-old and didn’t have the money to get it fixed.

Gower runs an auto shop and says he and his friend, Chris Wilson, volunteered to help him free of charge. As the two were helping, Gower tells 8News he noticed a truck swerving out of the lane, heading directly towards them.

“I remember my heart pounding,” said Gower. “I remember running and I remember being sent through the air. I remember being crushed.”

Virginia State Police say a Chevrolet ran off the road, hitting the disabled Honda.

Gower reveals to 8News that the impact pushed the Honda into him and says he was hit and went airborne over the guardrail before landing down an embankment, crashing into a tree.

“I said to God, if you let me see my kids just one last time,” cried Gower. “It was a desperate prayer, but a humble one.”

Grateful for another day with his wife and three children, one of which has special needs, Gower says his life is forever changed and now he will spend more time enjoying precious family moments.

Gower tells 8News that Wilson was hit directly by the Chevrolet and thrown across three lanes of traffic, shattering his leg.

Both men will be out of work for weeks, not being able to provide for their families. Loved ones have created a GoFundMe to help with mounting medical bills.

Virginia State Police have charged 58-year-old Jerry Thaniel with reckless driving and say fatigue was a factor in the crash. Troopers say Thaniel was wearing a seat belt at the time and suffered serious injuries.

The full statement from Virginia State Police is below:

Shortly after 4 p.m. on June 30, the driver of a 2015 Honda traveling north on Interstate-95 pulled over onto the shoulder near Maury Street.

The driver of the Honda was outside his vehicle working on the tire when a 2002 Toyota Sienna pulled over onto the shoulder. The driver and passenger of the Toyota, Christopher M. Wilson, 32, of South Chesterfield, Va. and David W. Gower, 36, of Chester, Va., exited their vehicle to help Wilson with the tire.

As they were working on the tire, a 2006 Chevrolet Colorado traveling north on I-95 ran off the right side of the highway and struck the parked Honda. The impact of that crash pushed the Honda into the Toyota. 

Wilson and Gower were both transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the Honda was on the other side of the guardrail at the time of the crash and was not injured.

The driver of the Chevrolet, Jerry A. Thaniel, 58, of Richmond, Va., was transported to VCU Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. He was wearing a seatbelt.

Statement from Virginia State Police


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