Teacher/singer, band members survive crash
Country music singer and New Middletown Elementary School teacher Rachel Timberlake, along with her husband and band members, escaped serious injury in a multi-car crash last month while en route from a show in Georgia.
The band had just performed in one of its favorite cities, Savannah, Ga., at Saddle Bags on Nov. 30 and was on its way home on Interstate 16.
‘Being a big holiday weekend, we wanted to get home,’ Timberlake said. ‘We knew traffic would be horrible, so we packed up after the show, went to the hotel and got cleaned up and had just stopped to fill up with gas and get some food.
‘It was probably 30 or 45 minutes later, between Savannah and Statesboro, when the crash happened,’ she said. ‘I’d just finished eating; the guys were laying down in the back of the van. And that’s when we got hit.’
Timberlake’s husband, Jason, was driving, with Luke Powers in the passenger seat, and Rachel was in the bench seat behind her husband.
One second, it was a normal trip home; the next, Power said the side mirrors started to glow with the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.
‘It was a split-second collision. There was absolutely no time for Jason to react,’ Rachel said.
A witness to the crash, which happened just before 3:45 a.m., said the impaired driver who caused the crash had come along beside him on the roadway, started swerving and looked like he was falling asleep.
‘The witness said all of a sudden the guy floors it, and he saw him hit us from behind. He guessed the guy was going about 100 miles per hour,’ Rachel said.
The collision caused the Timberlakes’ van and trailer to fishtail. Powers said he watched Jason fight to gain control of the wheel twice in an attempt to correct the back-and-forth action of the van and trailer. Eventually, he couldn’t control the van any longer.
‘I remember one of the guys saying, ‘There’s trees,’ and Jason did his best to keep away from them. That’s when we went into a roll,’ Rachel said. ‘The guys think the trailer may have turned over and went into the roll with us, but we’re not sure when it broke off the hitch. The van took one or two rolls and then, when we stopped, we were resting against the trees. The impact against the trees wasn’t real bad and wasn’t anything real sudden. I just remember holding onto Jason’s seat the whole time and having my eyes closed as it was all going on.’
Once the van came to a rest, Rachel said she heard her husband and Powers talking. She looked back to find her band mates in the rear of the van.
‘Once we took stock of everyone and made sure we were all alive, we started climbing out,’ Rachel said. ‘We were all in shock.’
But the story doesn’t end there.
About a minute or two later, as everyone was waiting for help to arrive and still gathering themselves, a second impaired driver collided with the first car.
‘That kind of freaked us all out,’ Rachel said.
Their van, trailer and equipment were all significantly damaged or destroyed. A bass player’s guitar slid across the highway, and items were found under trees. But, amazingly, there were no life-threatening injuries.
The band, which has missed four shows already, is still working with insurance on getting items replaced. The damaged goods are in the Timberlakes’ garage waiting for adjusters to look over things.
‘My microphone stand ‘ the only thing that’s really mine ‘ is all bent and crooked. It just looks so lonely,’ Rachel said. ‘But, we just kind of deal with it and have tried to move on. Some of the guys still have some flashbacks and stuff.’
If everything goes as planned, Rachel said the band’s first show back will be Friday in Bargersville, which is near Franklin.
‘It’ll be hard to get into a white van with a trailer hitched to the back. I’m sure we’ll get in our normal spots that we always sat in, but I’m not going to like the feeling,’ Rachel said. ‘This has really changed our perspective. The top of the van, where Jason was, was crushed in. Really, it’s a miracle someone wasn’t killed.
‘We are scheduled to go back down (to Georgia) the weekend after New Year’s and then we’ll be up north after that, so we’ll be on the road for an extended period,’ she said. That’ll be really nerve-wracking.’
Rachel said the outpouring of support from the community as the news of the crash spread on social media was overwhelming.
‘As we were with Georgia State Patrol waiting to figure out how we were all going to get home, our phones were glued to our hands. It was very amazing, and we are all thankful for everyone reaching out to us,’ she said.