Veteran, Pastor Killed While Trying to Help Daughter Who Ran Out of Gas

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
January 26, 2019US News
Veteran, Pastor Killed While Trying to Help Daughter Who Ran Out of Gas
A police car in a file photo. (Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images)

A beloved pastor and military veteran was struck while trying to cross a freeway to help his daughter, who was on the side of the road after running out of gas.

Earl Gresham, 73, parked on the southbound side of I-65 north of Louisville, Kentucky on Jan. 25 and crossed over all the southbound lanes and the median barrier before being struck by a green 2007 Camry while crossing over the northbound lanes, according to the Indiana State Police.

Gresham died upon impact on the freeway, near the 12-mile marker.

Family members remembered him as a good person who was always helping others out.

“My husband was just a really good man,” Cynthia Gresham, 66, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “He would help anybody. It didn’t matter what time they called, he would try to help them.”

Gresham served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Alaska for several years in the ’60s; other than that, he lived his entire life in New Albany.

Gresham was a pastor who “didn’t take a penny for preaching,” Cynthia Gresham said. “He just did his oldest brother’s funeral last Monday.”

Gresham had a large family. He had 10 siblings growing up and he and Cynthia Gresham had three children and, eventually, seven grandchildren.

“He even picked up his grandkids every Sunday to take them to church and everything,” Cynthia Gresham said. “I just can’t get over it.”

‘Special Man’

Terry Lynch, who lives next door to Faith and Love Church, where Gresham was a pastor, said that he was a kind-hearted gentleman.

“I am totally shocked. Just shocked. It’s just so hard to put into words,” Lynch told the News and Tribune.

“He was just a very special man. He deserves so much honor because he would do anything for anyone.”

She said Gresham was usually active, often outside tending to the grounds of the church. Whenever she or her husband saw him, he would smile and wave.

“When you see people like him all the time and always say, ‘Hi, how are you today?’ that’s such a nice relationship to have that you cherish,” she said. “He was always willing to offer a hand to help with whatever you need. He was such a good person. This is a tremendous loss.”

She said that the last thing he was doing showed who he was as a person: “He was doing what he loved to do—helping people.”

Fatal Car Crash Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzing data from the Department of Transportation, there were 37,461 deaths from car accidents in 2016, the last year full data is available for. The deaths occurred across 34,439 fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The number means 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, although those numbers can vary widely across states.

The highest deaths per 100,000 population was in Mississippi, which saw 23.1 such deaths, and the most deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was in South Carolina, which saw 1.88 such deaths.

The majority of fatal accidents are single-vehicle crashes, the institute noted.

Traffic Deaths Fall

U.S. traffic deaths fell 3.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, according to preliminary figures released in October 2018, Reuters reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 2017 traffic deaths fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 after traffic deaths rose sharply in the previous two years, according to final figures. The U.S. traffic fatality rate fell to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for the first half of 2018.

The fatality rate in 2017 was 1.16 million deaths per 100 million miles traveled—the second highest rate since 2008.

“This is good news and bad news,” said Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council, told CNBC. “The total number of fatalities is not getting worse, but the situation is not getting better.”

Hersman cited distracted driving and higher speed limits for the number. “There are a number of states that have raised speed limits, some now have stretches at 80 or 85 miles per hour,” she said.

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