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WKYT Investigates: Drowsy drivers cause high number of accidents in KY


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - "May 5th, 2011. I fell asleep coming home from work."
Now, Henry Root is mostly paralyzed from the waist down. Root worked for a coal company in Harlan county. He says he had worked 36 of the last 48 hours when he headed home at 2:00am. A co-worker was driving behind him.

"He knew it was me," Root said. "He said I started weaving back and forth and next think he knows I shot out around him. He could see something was wrong because I was slumped over in the car."
Police reports show his speedometer was stuck at 110 miles an hour when his car hit a cliff and rolled.
Root broke his neck, back, collar bone, pelvic bone, seven ribs in the front, and all his ribs in the back. His body crumbled.
"When you reach that point where your body says it's had enough, it's had enough. I don't care what you're doing, your going to sleep."

Barbara Phillips is a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Kentucky.
"We all will sleep whether we set time aside or not," she said.
Numbers from Kentucky State Police for 2013 show more than 1600 crashes on Kentucky roads were a result of a drivers falling asleep or being tired behind the wheel. But Dr. Phillips says many drivers may not admit the reason for the crash was driven by drowsiness.
"I suspect what we have is an underestimate."

It's been almost seven months since Angel Shrout and her husband were hit by a sleeping driver. They were driving on KY 11 in Montgomery county in the middle of the day. Her voice still shakes just to talk about it.
"I don't like going down a hill. I don't like when it's raining. I don't trust anybody," she said.

Shrout says the driver that hit them admitted he fell asleep.
"I just think, what if? What if I didn't see him? A thousand things could have gone differently. What would my kids be doing right now if we weren't here?"
She and her husband were both injured in the crash, and trying to heal.

Same for Henry Root, more than a hundred miles away.
He's going back to school now, taking his life in a new direction.
"All the would haves and should haves are in the past. Now it's time to look forward to the future."


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