LifeFlight evacuates Baskett after the crash. (File photo)
Mechanic Wayne Baskett describes himself as a "miracle man" because he survived a motorcycle crash three years ago on Old Fort Parkway.
Baskett feels blessed — but distressed from $100,000 in debt for lost wages because the Hispanic driver who struck him didn't have insurance.
"I'm a complete victim of a law I was compliant with," Baskett said. "The guy (driver) didn't have insurance. He had a valid driver's license and an expired green card."
Baskett suffered critical injuries, including the loss of his left eye.
Murfreesboro Police Sgt. Sam Campbell, commander of the Fatal Accident Crash Team, said two Murfreesboro residents died at the hands of hit-and-run illegal Hispanic immigrants during the past eight years. One illegal Hispanic driver died and another legal Hispanic driver's passenger died in 2005 in crashes on South Church Street.
The driver who struck Baskett was in the U.S. illegally too, Campbell said.
When Baskett talked to the driver six months after the 2004 crash, the driver asked through a translator if he was mad.
"No, I am not mad," said Baskett who lost his left eye in the crash. "I'm mad because you didn't have insurance. I'm mad because the state doesn't make you have insurance."
The Insurance Research Council reported in 2004 that 21 percent of 4.5 million Tennessee drivers didn't have insurance. The figures were not broken down by national origin.
Since the crash, Baskett lobbied state legislators to pass bills requiring drivers to show proof of insurance when they get their license plates.
"I have learned to raise up your uninsured motorist policy to $100,000 to cover yourself because it looks like the politicians aren't going to do anything against the insurance laws," Baskett said.
Baskett, then 36, remembers getting a hair cut before getting on his motorcycle July 17, 2004, on Old Fort Parkway toward Franklin. When he reached Gresham Lane, the Hispanic driver failed to yield at a traffic light and struck Baskett. His speedometer stuck at 25 mph.
He doesn't remember the crash or the next three weeks until he awoke at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Every bone in his face broke. He suffered a broken pelvic bone, right rib and both arms, a dislocated left hip and a severed bladder. Every bone in his face was shattered and had to be replaced.
He remained hospitalized 10 more days before spending six weeks in rehabilitation. Baskett, who worked at an auto dealership, received his salary and insurance for seven months but later lost his job because he couldn't work for one year while recovering.
He applied for food stamps, TennCare and disability just to help out but was denied any assistance. He tried to hire an attorney to recoup his losses from the uninsured driver but no one would take his case because the driver didn't have insurance.
His wife took their $25,000 uninsured motorist payment and paid the mortgage for one year.
The crash victim made a full recovery except for the loss of his left eye. He wears glasses to protect the artificial eye. Because of the disability, the 20-year certified mechanic can't land a job. He was forced to open his own business, Preventative Maintenance, at his Kimbro Road home where he specializes in working on Asian-made vehicles.
"There is nothing I cannot do," Baskett said. "Yes, I am blessed."