(Manila, AR) – Vickie Freemyer’s life was gone in a flash. This mother of four and Osceola teacher was on her way to see her father in the hospital when she pulled out onto Highway 77 in Manila from Fleeman Street.
The 52-year-old never saw what was coming.
Jerry Vassar did.
“All of a sudden I saw a blue flash go by,” he said.” Then 6 seconds later I heard a big crash. It was just a bad accident. It was just unreal.”
According to court documents, Arkansas State Trooper Andre Rhew was driving 103 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone.
He didn’t have his lights or siren on and T-boned Freemyer, turning her car into a mangled pile of metal.
“The attorney general described his conduct as outrageous, and the claims commission opinion described it as reckless and I would have to agree,” Robert Coleman said. Coleman is the Freemyer family attorney.
Trooper Rhew was fired after the crash, but the Arkansas State Police Commission reinstated him in March 2010.
He then pleaded no contest to misdemeanor negligent homicide and was fired again in June, but was reinstated again a few weeks later.
Then in 2011 he left resigned after getting arrested for D.W.I.
“I don’t see why they reinstated him in the first place,” Vassar said.
Coleman hopes the decision by the Joint Budge Committee to award the family $2.97 million will not only bring justice for the family, but change to the state police commission.
“Hopefully make sure nothing like this happens again,” he said.
We tried to contact the state commission to ask why Rhew was given so many chances, but our calls were not returned.
The family was originally asking for $8 million, but said the $2.97 million award was a “conservative compensation.” The state legislature will now have to approve the award.