A former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, severely injured in the line of duty, is now telling his story for the first time.
Billy Hughes says a poor decision made by one person changed his life forever.
On June 9, 2009 Hughes was helping protect workers in a construction zone. Moments after getting back into his car a drunk driver slammed into the vehicle.
“I felt the impact,” Hughes said. “I`m not sure I knew what was going on.”
Hughes suffered head and neck injuries. They were so severe it forced him to medically retire after only two years with the highway patrol.Still today, Hughes suffers with balance loss and nausea. He also has trouble hearing.
“That`s something that`s a constant reminder to me,” Hughes said. “It affects my family, affects my wife, affects my kids.”
Despite the long-lasting effects, Hughes says he is not angry with the driver who caused the accident. Instead, he is using his injuries as a teaching tool.
“I`d like for people to just understand that the decisions that they make can affect other people`s lives, for the rest of their lives,” Hughes said.
Troopers everywhere hope motorists will see Hughes’ story and take notice.
“If you choose to engage in risky behaviors then you`re putting yourself out there where bad things can happen,' Capt. Paul Timmons, with OHP, said.
“I would like for people to see that this is what can happen if I don`t be safer on the road,” Hughes said.
In 2013 there were nearly 600 work zone fatalities in the United States and 19 of those were in Oklahoma.