Each Sunday during the 2017-18 school year, the Carson-Newman athletic communications department will shine a spotlight on a current or former Carson-Newman student athlete to tell a tale of life outside of his or her respective sport.
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – It was a normal Friday for four student-athletes at Carson-Newman University on a cool night in October. Some getting ready for bed, others tuned into their televisions for playoff baseball and movies, unbeknownst to them that their perspectives would change for a lifetime.
Around 11:45 p.m. is when horror struck on the campus streets when a speeding SUV struck a vehicle with Jefferson City Police Department Sgt. Scott Winstead and Carson-Newman public safety officer, Lucas Trent, inside.
"It's one of those things where it's a huge loud bang, and you instantly know something bad just happened," said senior swimmer Davis Vincent who was also one of the first on the scene. "I was sitting close to the door so as soon as it did happen, I ran outside."
Vincent was not the only one alarmed by the thunderous collision that echoed through the night, prompting baseball players Austin Adams and Mark Treadway, and football player Trevor Makarov to investigate.
"When I heard the crash, I started walking to the door and I immediately heard a woman screaming," explained Adams, who is a junior pitcher for the Eagles ball club. "I looked outside and that's when I saw the cop car smoking."
The aftermath put the SUV on its side, spilling glass all over the street and sidewalk. The scent of gas was very prevalent, which quickly spread, as did the smoke from the cop car.
Adams quickly jumped at the chance to help, throwing on his shoes and waking up fellow teammate, freshman infielder Mark Treadway.
"You could hear the noises from the officers right away," Treadway added. "You could hear "get us out, get us out." Both of the officers were a bit dazed at the time, but you could tell the damage was pretty bad right away."
Adams recognized a familiar face in Officer Winstead when approaching the scene, taken back that it was somebody he personally knew, when he saw the sergeant covered in blood with glass coming out of the front of his head.
After gauging the situation, things turned worse when the smoking cop car burst into flames. Nearby was Carson-Newman football player, Trevor Makarov, who ran to aid the injured parties involved.
"For me it was just second nature to go and help and see if everyone was okay because I was in a pretty bad car accident myself back in January," said the sophomore tight end. "After seeing how bad the situation was all-around, I rushed to help."
What first caught the eye of Makarov, Davis, and others was the woman who was thrown from the SUV identified by the Sevier County District Attorney Genera, Jimmy Dunn, as Brittany L. Brown who died at the scene.
Instincts kicked in for the student-athletes despite the already dangerous situation, pulling down the bent-in car doors as best as they could to retrieve Officer Winstead and Officer Trent, while Treadway sprinted to grab the fire extinguisher from their apartment.
"We immediately tried to get the doors opened but they were completely jammed," Vincent added. "It got to a point my feet aren't even on the ground trying to get it pulled open. We were finally able to get the passenger side open to help Officer Trent out and carry him to safety."
Winstead was pulled about halfway out of the car, while the fire was being put out, but had difficulties moving any further due to the condition of his lower extremities.
"We didn't get Officer Winstead all the way out because of how bad his lower body was," Adams mentioned. "He was telling us how bad his hip hurt so we slowed it down and by the time we almost got him all the way out, three more cop cars pulled up and helped us get him out safely."
According to the Dandridge Police Department, Sergeant Scott Winstead was flown by Lifestar to UT Medical Center. Winstead underwent multiple surgeries and is expected to survive, recovering in the hospital. He updated his family and friends on Facebook with a thumbs up saying, "I'm not going to let some little wreck keep me down." Lucas Trent has been released from the hospital, and is back home recovering.
"I'm definitely glad I was there, and given the opportunity again I'd want to be there," Vincent said. "Not knowing any of the other students or athletes helping out, to me it shows that people can be strangers and can come and work together on something that was as pressing as that situation."
Jefferson City police said the immediate aid of the students near the scene likely saved the lives of Winstead and Trent.
"We don't really want the attention," Treadway mentioned. "We just want both of the officers involved to get well and get better. Being a student-athlete at Carson-Newman is demanding on its own, but it really helps groom you into someone you are trying to be especially in these situations."
"Being followers of Christ, we get that instinctual feeling if someone is in need," Adams remarked. "Whether it's just a ride to the field or someone's life is on the line, we know in our heart it is the right thing to do. We're glad that we were there to help and do what we could."
Being a small and close-knit community, Makarov was adamant that you cannot take anything for granted.
"Life can be taken away very easily," Makarov explained. "For a few hours after, I couldn't sleep. When I closed my eyes, I'd still see the incident. It easily could've been anyone I know or loved in that car wreck, so you just got to continue to tell the people you love, that you love them."
Nothing they've done could have prepared them for a moment that would require the kind of selflessness and bravery exhibited on that fateful Friday night.
It's a credit to four student-athletes and their willingness to serve others. It's something more than baseball, football, or swimming would ever do.