By Ralphine Major

It was the evening of October 11, 2011.  Fountain City residents Mike and Barbara Cruze were traveling on Interstate 640.  Their destination—a cabin in the mountains.  Focus readers may be familiar with Mike Cruze, Master Gardener, from his monthly column in the paper.  Mike, a landscaper, provides insightful articles on lawns, weeds, herbicides, and all things related to gardening.  In a column last spring on dandelions, he provided way more information on the little puffy plant than I could ever imagine!  As the Cruze couple neared the flyover toward Interstate 275 South, their trip took a drastic turn.

“Mike was driving,” Barbara said.  “Suddenly, he screamed and said his jaw was hurting!”   A second time, he screamed!  This time,  Mike told Barbara he was seeing stars.

“I think I’m dying!” Mike told his wife.  Then, he passed out.

Barbara grabbed the wheel of their pickup truck as it came down the ramp merging onto Interstate 275 South toward Knoxville.  Slowly, the truck crossed the lanes crashing into a grove of trees.  The driver’s door was pressed against the ground.  Barbara was not injured, but Mike was still unconscious.  Despite the minor accident and an unconscious husband, Barbara still had the presence of mind to dial 911.  Then, as if in a sequence of perfectly orchestrated events, she looked up to see a car pull over and stop.  “I saw three men coming toward our truck,” Barbara said.    (To be continued next week with Part 2)