One woman can call herself a survivor after a “Dukes of Hazzard”-style car crash nearly took her life.
Unlike the television show, the woman didn’t have a stunt double but still considers herself a “warrior” for championing through the ordeal.
A police report states that Tanaijsha Bruton, 21, soared 120 feet in the air after driving onto the back of a tow truck in Lowndes County near Valdosta, Georgia on May 24. Footage of the extraordinary experience was captured on video and went viral shortly afterward.
TV history was made in November 1978, when a stuntman on the Georgia set of “The Dukes of Hazzard” propelled the show’s legendary 1969 Dodge Charger, known as the General Lee, off a dirt ramp and soared over a police car. This jump, reaching a height of 16 feet and spanning a distance of 82 feet, resulted in the car being completely wrecked upon landing.
It’s unclear what happened to Bruton’s car after the crash in May, and while she doesn’t remember the details of the incident, she feels the pain and had to undergo at least four surgeries for internal injuries.
“I’m just grateful that throughout all the surgeries, I’m still here and able to see another day. I thought it was over. I blacked out. I don’t really remember much, but I know that I thought I was going to die, and it hurts. It hurts really, really bad. I felt everything,” she said.
What she does remember, however, replays in her mind.
“When I go to sleep that’s pretty much what I dream about. It just replays over and over. Nobody expected me to make it. Not even my family. They didn’t expect me to make it at all,” she told WALB in an interview.
The young woman was initially transported to the South Georgia Medical Center after the accident. Then she was moved to the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, and released on Friday, June 9, after spending two weeks in the hospital, most of which was in the intensive care unit.
Had it not been for the video going viral on social media, huge parts of the accident would be lost to Burton.
“My family didn’t want to show me the video, but of course, I’m hard-headed and got on social media,” the Tallahassee woman said, adding, “One of my friends mentioned me in the video and said, ‘Oh this is you,’ and I was like this me?! This my car?!”
As she heals, investigators are trying to piece together what exactly happened. Bruton claims the blame for the accident is solely being placed on her but believes others should be held responsible also. She claims that the truck was in the middle of the road when the accident it was responding to was on the other side, and Burton did not see the truck’s emergency lights on.
However, the state’s patrol report reportedly shows that the lights were, and it’s unclear to confirm from the short video.
Bruton will be charged with driving while unlicensed and a use of seatbelts in passenger vehicles violation.
The crash happened off Ga 38/U.S. 84 where the Lowndes County Sheriff’s deputies were on the scene investigating the other traffic accident. One officer’s body camera shows the young woman driving at full speed up the tow truck’s flatbed ramp. The sedan went up the ramp and flipped over before flying in the air and hitting another vehicle.
Georgia State Patrol Lt. Crystal Zion emphasized the importance of Georgia’s Move Over Law, which calls for motorists traveling in the lane adjacent to the shoulder to move over one lane when emergency and utility vehicles are stopped on the side of the highway and operating in an official capacity.
“It takes out the distractions of driving fast or phones or other people in the car. Basically, you know when you see those lights to slow down, move over,” Zion told WSB-TV 75.