I-285 plane crash: Driver who was almost clipped by plane was detained by police

Gerald Smith (Channel 2 Action News)
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Gerald Smith (Channel 2 Action News)
Gerald Smith (Channel 2 Action News)

Gerald Smith (Channel 2 Action News)

The truck driver who stopped just short of the crashing plane on I-285 Friday morning has been detained by police for driving on a suspended license.

Gerald Smith, 42, had a failure to appear in court warrant from Douglas County and is being held at the Doraville city jail until Douglas County officials pick him up, according to Gene Callaway, public information officer for the Doraville police.

Callaway said Smith’s commercial and personal licenses were suspended.

He had been ticketed in Douglas County for driving on a suspended license.  “This is pretty much being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Callaway said.

Smith, who was heading east on Interstate-285 Friday morning, said he slammed on his brakes after seeing a plane speeding too low toward him.

“I just knew that thing was too low,” said Smith in an interview with Channel 2 Action News. “If I would have stayed on the gas, I would have met it head on, and it would probably have killed me.”

The single-engine plane hit the front of his truck before crashing into the freeway median and catching fire after a 10:10 a.m. crash, Smith told Channel 2.

Four people, including three men and one woman, were killed in the crash, authorities reported. It crashed within five minutes of taking off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport.

For Smith, what was a normal work day turned into a day he would never forget because “someone’s life was taken on this day.”

“Whoever was in that plane, my heart goes out to their family,” he said.

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