Louisville mother's quick actions help save family after fiery crash on I-64


by Renee Murphy


Posted on February 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 7:21 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A Louisville mother’s quick actions helped to save her family after a fiery crash on I-64.

Their car caught fire in the accident and she used Gatorade to put out the flames before the rescue workers arrived.

“I saw the fire needed to be put out. My first reaction was to try and I could not open the doors and I knew I needed to do something and I knew I had the Gatorades and the waters because we had just came from wrestling,” Debbie Branch said.

Branch described to WHAS11 over the phone what happened during this accident on I-64 in Frankfort early Sunday morning.

“I believe God gave me the strength to do what I needed to do,” Branch said.

Branch's husband and two sons were in a Ford Edge, she was in a car right behind them when she saw the accident. The car crashed into a semi, then crossed the median and hit another semi almost head on, then the car caught fire.

“I got my guys and that’s all that matters,” Branch said.

The family was coming back to Louisville from her son Jarred's middle school wrestling tournament in Mount Sterling. Her husband Jeff Branch is the assistant wrestling coach at Fern Creek High School and coaches middle school wrestling. Jeff feel asleep behind the wheel. He and his sons were not wearing seat belts but all survived.

“It’s all kind of unexplainable other than just being a little too comfortable while driving when you shouldn't be,” Mark Hitchings, Fern Creek Wrestling Head Coach said.

Mark Hitchings has been friends with Jeff Branch for 40 years and has coached wrestling with him for decades. He is relieved his friend will be ok and will coach again.

“It's amazing. The pictures from the scene are incredible if you were to look at the pictures not knowing the outcome you would certainly believe or assume that there were fatalities,” Hitchings said. “Him and I have been partners for a long time all the way back to high school. So, I am thankful that he is going to have that opportunity.”

The left side of Jeff Branch’s body was crushed, he is being treated at UK Medical Center. His son’s are already out of the hospital.

Branch works at the Kentucky Truck Plant for Ford. It’s believed that he was up late Friday night working on trophies for the tournament, got up early for the tournament and then was driving back late.

Hitchings believes that is why he fell asleep behind the wheel.