Chris Draft has been a member of six NFL teams counting the Bills in his time in the NFL. So he’s been in a lot of places. And in his short time with the Bills he’s been in the right place at the right time with a sack and big fourth down stop in two games with Buffalo. Seven years ago in May of 2002 in the wee hours of the morning Draft was not on a football field, but again he was in the right place at the right time.
Draft was driving a college buddy home after a night out with friends. Playing for the Falcons at the time Draft was headed back to his house going north on I-85. That’s when a BMW a short distance ahead of him swerved right across three lanes of traffic struck the guard rail and came all the way back across every lane of the highway before smashing head on into the retaining wall separating northbound from southbound traffic.
“It crashed right in front of me,” said Draft. “When he crashed he made a left turn on the freeway, so he was drunk and passed out and crashed his car and the car started coming back at me. I had to stop because his car was all over the freeway.”
Draft was wondering if the guy was alright after the spectacular crash, which fortunately only involved the driver’s vehicle.
“I went to check on him and called 911. He didn’t have his seat belt on and was slouched over on the floor on the passenger side. And I was thinking I’m not going to move him,” said Draft. “The way he hit that wall I didn’t want to move him.”
Draft was concerned about paralyzing the guy in case he had a neck injury.
“Some other guy came up to the car and turned off the ignition, while I went back to my car which was only a few yards behind his. And the car started smoking a little so I went a checked on him again while we were waiting for the emergency responders.”
While standing at the front of the car keeping an eye on the driver Draft did not notice what was going on at the rear of the car.
“I’m at the front of the car and my friend yells out, ‘The car is on fire!’ So I looked at the car and there were flames shooting out the back of the car,” said Draft. “I’m at the driver’s side of the vehicle and with flames shooting out the back I opened the car door and I grabbed him by his legs and pulled him out. Then one other guy and my friend came to help me carry him. They each grabbed a leg and I had him under his armpits. And we got him away from the car. He was still passed out.”
With the car still on fire Draft was worried about the car blowing up, but that’s when an 18-wheeler stopped.
“Fortunately this trucker pulled over got out of his rig and came out with a fire extinguisher, sprays the car and puts the fire out and then just jumps back in his truck and heads back down the freeway,” said Draft. “It was great.”
Though Draft was written up in the local papers as a hero, he pointed to the six other people that stopped to help, including two emergency room workers that had just gotten off of their shifts and provided instruction on how to care for the passed out drunk driver.
“When you look at all the different parts of it there were a bunch of different people that all pitched in and showed their greatness,” Draft said. “I stopped and I was able to be there, but there were so many other people that were a part of that.”
The driver, Anthony Ivory, had a non-life threatening neck injury and a few bruises as well as a DUI charge. Unfortunately it took the guy a while to thank the people that saved his life including Draft, and had some nerve when speaking to the then Falcons linebacker.
“It took him four months before he thanked any of us,” said Draft. “When I talked to him he said I should give him season tickets because he made me famous by pulling him out of the car. He told me he wasn’t going to drink anymore. Hopefully he hasn’t. Hopefully he realized he could have been in ditch somewhere if he turned right instead of left that day. Hopefully he learned his lesson.”
Here’s the full write up a short time after the incident occurred.
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Posted in Inside the Bills