Crenshaw Co. man lucky to be alive after 18-Wheeler wreck

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Ken Stephens can only imagine what would have happened had he been at work at his automobile business.

"I just look at this and wonder," said Stephens, owner of Panola Auto Sales.

The 18-wheeler spilled every bit of its load of wooden beams as it rounded the curve on Highway 331 North, halfway between Montgomery and Luverne. Many of the beams crushed the small metal building that was Panola Auto Sales.

While Stephens was not at work, his detail man was. Gerald McGraw was reaching for the front door to walk outside when around 40 of the 60 beams, each weighing around 200 pounds a piece came knocking.

"He was able to crawl out and just layed out there," Stephens said.

Stephens says McGraw suffered a few bumps and a sore back.

The truck driver for Mills Trucking Company out of Goshen, Alabama, declined to talk but this appears to be an accident pure and simple. A Crenshaw County sheriff's deputy just happened to be traveling behind the big rig and he tells WSFA 12 News nothing seemed out of the ordinary, 75,000 pounds of weight including the truck, securely fastened.. lumbering up 331.

County investigators say they would like to see the 55 speed limit reduced through this area even though the truck driver was not speeding. No charges will be filed.

The Alabama Department of Transportation says it's not aware of any speed limit issues on this part 331 but would entertain a request if one is made. Changing the speed limit D.O.T. says is not an overnight thing, a lengthy process that looks at traffic count, frequent stops and road conditions.

Back at what's left of Panola Auto Sales, a big mess  but nothing compared to what could have been. Ken Stephens says McGraw should be okay. McGraw ended up suffering a few bumps and a very sore back.

In addition to that bit of good news, both the trucking company and Stephens say they have insurance to repair all the damage.

The beams severely damaged all of Stephens' vehicles.

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