WARNING: This story contains video that is difficult to watch. It involves an Edmond police officer who was run down during a high speed chase in 2022. The dash cam video from that day has never been broadcast, but the officer wants you to see it. He also wants you to hear his story, because it helps explain how he survived what no one expected him to.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2022
EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – “We’re southbound at 40 mph right now.”
“Southbound 40 miles.”
“He pulled out of the TVI. He’s coming back northbound.” – Sgt. Joseph Wells
“We have an officer down. Officer down. Send medical quick.”
Speaking publicly for the first time, Sgt. Joseph Wells says he does not remember anything from the day he was nearly killed by an out of control driver. He has not see the dash cam or body cam video from that day.
“I want everybody to know the truth about what happened,” Sgt. Wells said.
“Do you want anyone to see it?”
“I do want everyone see to it,” Wells said.
“As I’m driving, there was a truck on the shoulder doing about a hundred miles an hour,” former combat medic, Joel Crawford, said. “He just starts running into cars and just starts pushing them out of the way. It was like a video game, and this keeps going stoplight after stoplight. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Crawford had no idea what was happening.
“I’m sitting there and Joe and two other cops pass me. I remember him, because he’s like a monster on this little bitty motorcycle, and he drives by me in the middle of the intersection with the lights on and stuff.”
Crawford will soon be face-to-face with the muscular officer on the small bike—the unlikely beginning of a life saving moment and an unshakeable bond between a former combat medic and a 16-year police veteran and Marine.
“As I top the hill it was like chaos. Everything had completely changed from what it was. Joe’s bike was in a thousand pieces,” Crawford said. “There was an officer pulling the guy out of the car. He didn’t care at all. He looked sober. He looked coherent. He just didn’t care, and there were two officers in the trees doing something. There was no body that was on the bike anymore.”
Instinct and training kicked in.
“We’re going through the trees. They’re yelling his name. He was literally a hundred feet from his bike knocked through a bunch of trees in a creek. The officers and I we tear his clothes off,” Crawford said. “I thought he was dead honestly He wasn’t breathing. It was kind of a snorting sound.”
That loud, audible noise can be heard in the video. It is overwhelming, and News 4 is muting it—the sound of a man dying. Sgt. Wells is literally fighting, gasping for life.
“I helped the other officer open his airway up more, and I held it open,” Crawford said. “I honestly thought he was going to die. His eyes, there was like nothing there. They were kind of gone.”
“A couple of days after being admitted to the hospital they intubated him because Joe was having such a hard time breathing,” friend Aaron Hallmark said. “Joe’s stats just kept dropping and dropping and dropping. They were talking about comfort care for Joe, because they felt like they had done everything they could do.”
Cheridan Trevino is Joe’s wife and also an Edmond police officer. Joe’s attorney advised her not to speak on camera.
“A nurse just happened to be treating another patient in a room next to Joe and overheard a conversation of what Joe’s status was, and he made the recommendation to Cheridan that she should ask about ECMO,” Hallmark said.
ECMO is an artificial life support that would be Joe’s last hope after nine days on maximum life support. Cheridan did what any wife would do.
“Cheridan can be persistent and she was Joe’s advocate through this whole process and didn’t take no for an answer and made a scene,” Hallmark said. “That’s the only way to describe it, but she was fighting for Joe’s life.”
“She fought and went to different doctors, and ended up throwing a big enough fit, and found a doctor that agreed with her and they agreed to try ECMO,” Joe said.
For the next six days, Joe’s life was sustained by machines.
“Within days you just start to see Joe come back to life again, and that brush with death again is averted, because of people fighting for Joe,” Hallmark said.
“None of the doctors I see understand why I’m still here. They say there is no medical reason I survived or I’m still here. My family was told several times I wasn’t going to survive. Then I was told I would never walk again, might lose his legs, not going to have his legs,” Joe said. “I’ve been told my nerves will never come back. They seem to have little twitches here and there like they might want to come back.”
Joe spent months in the hospital and rehab and has undergone countless surgeries. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and has no recollection of the accident which is not necessarily a bad thing. Five of his ribs were fractured, puncturing and collapsing his left lung. His teeth were shattered, his left knee and pelvis were shattered, and his bladder was ripped apart. He has a metal rod in his leg and severe nerve damage.
Pieced back together—but here.
“It can be hard. I sit here and wonder why I’m still here.”
And why the man who hit him is not behind bars.
“He is right now at home. He’s out on bond. He’s at home doing whatever he wants to do. I sit here at home and can’t do 95 percent of the stuff I did before that I enjoyed doing.”
25-year-old Garrett Trammell was charged with five counts of assault and battery, endangering others while eluding police, leaving the scene of an injury collision and maiming. In January, a judge denied a motion to reduce his bond and kept it at $950,000. Court transcripts obtained by News 4 state Trammell has no record of mental illness and a blood test after the accident revealed the only stimulant in his system was THC. Aaron Hallmark was in the courtroom.
“It was heart-wrenching to have to see Joe sit there across the room from that guy and be in the same room as someone who tried to kill you,” Hallmark said. “The person who tried to attack Joe and kill him is walking free on the streets to this day.”
In February, Trammell posted bond and walked out of the Oklahoma County Detention Center. His attorney declined to comment.
“I have no ill feelings against him. Whatever happened, happened,” Joe said. “I was doing my job.”
Joe has made peace with what happened on the day he almost died, but what he has not come to terms with is his future.
“Nobody really knows how much more I’ll progress, because nobody thought I’d get this far,” he said.
His future employment is unknown, and he questions if he will be forced to medically retire.
“I don’t know what my status with the police department really is,” he said.
“You go to work to do your job protecting the city and serving the city and get hurt doing that job and then what?” Joe said.
As the criminal case against Trammell makes its way through the court system, Joe has filed a civil suit, and therein lies another unknown.
“The city and the insurance company have a stake in what I might get civilly through that,” Joe said.
An Oklahoma law passed 10 years ago gives the City of Edmond and worker’s compensation insurance the right to take a portion of any winnings from that lawsuit. The law was touted as workers comp reform. If you ask Joe, that reform does not benefit the men and women in uniform—those who put their lives on the line serving and protecting a state that in this case may not be protecting them.
That Oklahoma law was ruled constitutional. Tune in Wednesday night at 10 as News 4 tracks down how such a measure became law in the first place, who was behind it and what is next for Sgt. Wells.