Owner of local wrecker service seriously injured in crash

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Shavonne Walker


SALISBURY — Richard and Judy Smith have been getting lots of calls about requests for a wrecker service. The requests are ones the couple unfortunately cannot fulfill.

Richard, owner of Richard Smith Wrecker Service, was seriously injured in a Sept. 26 crash while responding to a stranded driver on Interstate 85 near Dale Earnhardt Boulevard in Cabarrus County.

The couple run the business themselves, located at 2885 Old Union Church Road, and have been unable to work because of Richard’s injuries. They have no other source of income.

Daughter Melissa Ketchie said her father, 69, just returned home Friday. He had surgery last Wednesday and prior to that was in the intensive care unit at Carolinas Medical Center NorthEast.

Richard Smith had pulled off onto the shoulder and was preparing his rollback to load a car onto it when he and the car he was loading were struck by a tractor-trailer.

Ketchie said they were told a woman slammed on her brakes and the tractor trailer driver was following too closely. She said the woman left the scene. The tractor trailer driver pulled off the roadway just ahead of the tow truck. The driver stopped and called 911.

The impact of the crash sent Richard Smith flying through the air and he landed on the back of his roll back, face down. The force of the crash was so violent that Smith lost a shoe, and it was never found.

His right knee cap was crushed, his right leg up to the knee was broken in four places. He now has a metal rod, pins and wires in his leg. He has a broken pelvis and shattered tailbone, Ketchie said.

He even lost some front top teeth.

He can’t apply pressure to his broken foot for another eight to 12 weeks. Smith will undergo rehabilitation a couple of times a week. But since Smith can’t walk, he is wheelchair-bound for the time being.

The tractor trailer driver was charged with failure to maintain lane control, according to a N.C. Highway Patrol report.

The Smiths have been in business close to 30 years.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.