'It looked like a bomb went off:' Deputy heralded for helping victim, making arrest in 100-mph crash

CARY, N.C. -- Like a lot of people, Wake County Sheriff's Major Jimmy Byrd just got off work at 5 p.m. Wednesday. But the 28-year veteran had one wild ride home down U.S. 1 through Cary.

"It looked like a bomb went off when it hit. I mean, I was a ways back but it still looked like a bomb hit it," Byrd said, describing the extremely high-impact crash in the southbound lanes of the highway that he witnessed from start-to-finish as he tried to drive home in congested rush hour traffic.

"I started hearing this roaring coming up from behind me and two cars, 'phew, phew' on either side of me. (The cars) just flew by," he said.

Byrd said it was a black BMW and a midnight blue Volkswagen GTI that sped by him. He was unsure whether the vehicles were racing or if it was road rage. What he knew for sure was the speed.

"In excess of 100 mph," he recalled. (Then he revved it up and started zipping between three lanes, passing cars and just driving extremely dangerously. I made the determination that I've got to stop him."

When Byrd flipped on his lights and siren, he said the BMW quickly exited US-1 -- but when the Major got behind the Volkswagen, he said the driver refused to slow down.

"I was trying to gain on him enough to get a good vehicle description and a tag," he said.

The sports car was then speeding at 100+ mph down the highways' shoulder. But at the US 64 exit, the shoulder disappears, and it is either take the exit or hit the grass.

"I'm like, I'm not going through the grass at that speed. It's just too dangerous," Byrd said. "His car launched out of the grass airborne and into the back of this poor innocent victim just trying to get home."

Major Byrd handcuffed the Volkswagen's driver, Timothy Cox. But not before rushing to help the innocent man driving the red Volkswagen Jetta.

"I could tell it was extremely critical," Byrd said describing the victim after he pried open the car's door to render aid. "When I found that faint pulse I'm thinking, 'thank you, Jesus, maybe this man has a chance.""

Less than 24 hours later, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker was lifting Major Byrd up as a shining example for the agency

"Major Byrd not only restrained the alleged speeding violator but quickly rendered aid to the person in the second car," Baker said in part.

Byrd, who is set to retire from the sheriff's office next month, recalled Wednesday as another day on the job -- where he often leans on his faith to guide him.

"As a matter of fact, I actually stopped and said a prayer for this man on the side of the road on the accident scene once everything calmed down," Byrd said. "That's the only way you can get through it. At least that's the only way I can get through it."

The sheriff's office said this was not a chase. It said it never had the chance to be. From the point Major Byrd got behind the Volkswagen to the point it crashed -- it was only 22 seconds, officials say.

Meantime, Cox is in the Wake County Jail facing a number of charges including eluding arrest.

The innocent victim behind the wheel of the red Jetta is recovering at WakeMed. He's in very bad shape according to Major Byrd, who went to visit him Thursday afternoon.
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