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After Daytona crash, one brother has surgery, the other stays strong

- tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013

Terry Huckaby and his brother, Eddie, did Saturday what they do almost every February. They went to Daytona International Speedway. They’ve been coming since 1968, not every year but most.

On Saturday they sat in the Campbell Box, Section 1, Row 11, Seats 3 and 4. That’s when the wreck occurred, right in front of them, and when the carnage began.

“I just jumped, OK?” says Terry, 60, a plumber from Hendersonville, Tenn., who wears a Daytona 500 2013 cap. “But it happened so suddenly. It’s not like, ‘That’s happening, I’ll move over.’ I didn’t even know he was hurt.”

“He” is Eddie, 53, an engineer for Peterbuilt Trucks in Denton, Texas.

Eddie “was hit by a piece of metal approximately 3 feet long by about 18 inches or so,” says Terry. “It looked like, maybe, the underpin of a car or maybe even a spoiler. Stuff was flying everywhere. It was like you were in a war zone or something, tire flying by and smoke and everything else, you know?”

Terry talks Saturday night in the parking lot outside the emergency room at Halifax Health Medical Center, which is walking distance from the race track. Eddie underwent surgery; Terry guesses the operation took an hour. Eddie is good, Terry says, although he won’t be released for at least 48 hours.

The details are fresh.

“I saw a lot of small particles and stuff,” says Terry. “Parts and pieces. Brake rotor part. Wheel with the whole hub onto it. There was just debris everywhere.”

Eddie sustained a cut from his hip to his knee. Terry pulled off his belt, put his plumbing expertise to use, created a tourniquet and tied it tightly around Eddie’s bloody leg.

“What do they say, instincts kick in and you just try to do something,” says Terry.

If only fans in the Daytona grandstands were so fortunate.

“I know it’s a lot of people hurt out there and I’m just rooting for them,” says Terry. “I know my brother’s OK and he’s going to be fine. And the other people, I don’t know.”

Terry is calm. He blames nobody, not the track and not the sport. He becomes angry, however, when he says that emergency crews had trouble reaching the victims because fans taking pictures with cell phones stood in their way.

Terry has the same seats Sunday – Section 1, Row 11, Seats 3 and 4 – he had Saturday.

He says he’s not hesitant to return.

“The only hesitation I have about going back is going back without him,” Terry says of Eddie. “In respect to him, I’d feel kind of guilty going over there.” Maybe, Terry adds, “I’ll come over (to Halifax) and watch it on TV with him.” Before the cameras go off, the notebooks are closed and Terry walks to his car, he says: “We’re not scared to come down here. And I’m sure (Eddie) will be the first to tell you, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in July.’ ”

That would by July 6, the next Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.

More racing news, blogs, photos and more at www.ThatsRacin.com.