KHQ EXCLUSIVE: TJ Meenach Truck, Camper Crash Victim 'It Wasn't The Alcohol, It Was Muscle Relaxers'
by Alex Rozier, KHQ Local News Reporter - bio | email
SPOKANE, WASH. - Chuck Welch doesn't remember much, but one thing he knows for certain.
"I didn't give a damn about the truck. My main concern was Candy," Welch said. "That truck can be replaced, Candy can't."
Candy Barnes is his girlfriend of a month and a half and she was in the camper attached to his truck when he crashed it Monday afternoon. Welch was driving eastbound just before the TJ Meenach bridge when he went off the road and hit the curb. The truck landed on the Centennial Trail, but the camper, with Candy inside, went flying two hundred feet to the banks of the Spokane River. Barnes is in critical condition tonight. Welch has been listed by Sacred Heart staff as "satisfactory."
Though this story ends at the hospital, it all started last Friday when the doctor told him to quit drinking.
"No but's, if's or and's about," Welch said. "I have not bought a can of beer since the day he told me that but I did have the three cans of beer in the back (of the refrigerator) and at five dollars for three of them I wasn't about to waste it."
So he didn't waste them and he drank those three beers on Monday, according to him, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. But it wasn't the beer that caused this accident, Welch said, it was the muscle relaxers. He says he had been prescribed muscle relaxers and took them along with his alcohol. On top of all of that, he says he hadn't slept for three days because of his problems with his hip.
"When this hip is acting up it's hard to walk, stand, sit, or lay down," Welch said. "With me being up for three days and drinking three cans of beer and taking two muscle relaxers on top of it, me being stupid like I was, ‘What's the first thing that's going to happen?' I'm going to fall asleep and that's exactly what happened."
Welch said he blacked out and quickly realized what he did. Despite the crash, his focus remains on his relationship. He's been single for 36 years after three divorces earlier in his life, and admits he does not trust women. But then he met Candy.
"She's the type of person who would put you in your place in a heartbeat," Welch said.
He had the chance to talk to her last night and he believes everything will work out.
"Like I told her last night, ‘I just got you (Candy) I don't want to lose you," Welch said.
Following the accident Welch will be charged with DUI and vehicular assault. Witnesses say he was driving more than 50 mph in a 30 mph zone at the time of the crash.
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