Driving fatigued: One Airman's consequences

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steve Stanley
  • Headquarters Air Combat Command Public Affairs
"I heard a rumbling noise, then silence and then an intense 'BANG' followed by another."

Those were the sounds that echoed through Master Sgt. David Louis Ingram Jr.'s ears during a tragic car accident that would change his and his family's lives forever.

While visiting family in southern Georgia on November 3, 2012, Ingram, an Air Combat Command weapons safety manager, was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle as the driver, his brother Sam, veered off the road after succumbing to the effects of fatigue.

Master Sgt. David Ingram, ACC weapons safety manager, shares his story about driving fatigued. "I started feeling tired, so I asked my brothers if they were going to be alright to finish the trip home," Ingram said. "I was under the impression that my other brother Randy was going to stay up with Sam while I took a nap."

After drifting off of the road, the truck hit an embankment sending the vehicle airborne over a trench, slamming the front end of the vehicle into the ground.

After I gathered myself, I looked around and noticed my brother slumped over the steering wheel not moving," Ingram said. "He finally came to and seemed really dazed. He walked around to the front of the truck, opened the door and got me out. At first glance, I couldn't tell if he had any injuries, but I knew my stomach started to hurt really badly and began to swell instantly."

Ingram's brothers rested him on his back next to the truck and dialed 911. The ambulance arrived around 45 minutes later.

"It seemed like forever for the ambulance to get there," Ingram said. "Once they got me on the stretcher, I was out."

Master Sgt. David Ingram, ACC weapons safety manager, shares his story about driving fatigued. Ingram was put on a stretcher and taken to the emergency room, losing consciousness before he arrived. He would spend the next 12 days in the hospital. His two brothers suffered only minor injuries.

Ingram received 35 stitches on his face, several broken ribs, a fractured right ankle, shattered teeth, a gashed tongue, burns to his face, a broken thumb and lost 13 inches of his small intestine.

"My doctor explained to me that I had lost almost two liters of blood," Ingram said. "Had I been there a little longer, I would have bled out."

Ingram is one of many Americans that are injured in fatigue related crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

Master Sgt. David Ingram, ACC weapons safety manager, shares his story about driving fatigued."First of all plan your trip," Ingram said. "We should have planned a little better. Any time you're fatigued, pull over. I never thought I would be in this situation since I work in safety. It just goes to show it doesn't matter who you are, it all comes down to planning."

In Ingram's brother's case, fatigue hindered his ability to make a safe decision.

Fatigue makes lapses of attention more likely to occur, and may play a role in behavior that can lead to crashes that attribute to other causes. Statistics also show that 69 percent of accidents occur within 10 miles of home. Ingram and his brothers were less than three.

Alcohol was not a factor in the accident and luckily all three brothers were wearing their seatbelts.

Ingram displays a solemn look as an apparent feeling of regret casts over his eyes before giving his final safety note: "I should have been a better wingman."