The only thing Wes Foster remembers before an SUV struck him last month is the paramedics and fellow Charleston police officers who were surrounding him.
But it was their presence, he said in an interview Thursday, that might have made the difference between life and death. Foster suffered a broken skull and other injuries when he was hit while directing traffic around an earlier traffic crash on Folly Road.
His injuries will put him out of work for months, and he now sits at home with his two children and wife, frustrated but thankful.
“I know there’s stuff I’m missing, not being in the middle of everything, so it’s hard feeling useless and not doing what I’ve been doing for years and years,” the 40-year-old police officer said. “But without the EMS and officers already there, I can’t even tell what would have happened.
“Maybe I wouldn’t be able to come back.”
Foster, a 15-year veteran of law enforcement, expressed no opinion about the punishment handed down to Garrett Gledhill, the James Island man whose Kia SUV hit him April 3.
The S.C. Highway Patrol said Thursday that the 35-year-old Gledhill paid an $82 fine after being ticketed for driving a vehicle at a greater speed than is reasonable under the conditions. The citation was issued weeks after the wreck, when the Highway Patrol’s investigation ended. Alcohol was not a factor.
Gledhill was ticketed for speeding in 2011 and has 2003 convictions for possessing Ecstasy and possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, according to court records.
“He didn’t allow enough time and distance to stop for the police officer before striking him,” said Cpl. Bob Beres, a Highway Patrol spokesman. “It doesn’t necessarily mean he was exceeding the posted speed.”
Foster was ushering vehicles around a crash scene at Folly and Fort Johnson roads.
At 9 p.m., it was dark, but Foster was wearing a reflective vest and using a flashlight when witnesses said the Kia’s driver failed to follow Foster’s commands to slow down.
Witnesses said the crash sounded like a collision between two vehicles. Foster was thrown 50 feet over the pavement.
The officer was taken to Medical University Hospital, where police officials said he was treated for head, knee and wrist injuries.
He is recovering with his wife and two children in their Upstate home. Foster had relocated from there after being hired in his native Charleston in September. His family is planning a move to the Lowcountry.
Foster previously had worked for law agencies in Cherokee and Spartanburg counties and for a university police force in Columbia.
Foster, whose knee will require surgery before he can return to work in a few months, said the accident was the worst he had experienced in the line of duty. He once broke his hand while struggling with a suspect and suffered another injury he didn’t wish to talk about during a traffic stop.
“When I come back, I have to be at 100 percent,” he said. “If you call 911, I want to be able to respond and do everything I can to help.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.