Man killed in wrong-way I-40 crash was longtime veteran - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Man killed in wrong-way I-40 crash was longtime veteran


An Air Force veteran was killed when a Hermitage man driving the wrong way on Interstate 40 struck his car head-on early Saturday.

Gary 'Slim' Hendrix, 66, was a giving man who was just trying to make up for a milestone he missed in his daughter's life a decade ago, said his wife, Kay Hendrix, of La Vergne, when Tavares Natt, 37, drove the wrong way in the westbound lanes of I-40 and collided into Gary Hendrix's car near Fesslers Lane.

Both men died at the scene, and the occupants in two other vehicles involved in the collision were not seriously hurt.

Ten years ago, Gary Hendrix missed his daughter's graduation from Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet, but for a good reason.

"Her daddy was in Iraq when she graduated high school," Kay Hendrix said.

So, to make up for it, he dropped his daughter off at her 10-year class reunion Friday night in Nashville.

"My daughter feels guilty about this and said if she never went to this, this would never happened," Kay Hendrix said.

Gary Hendrix was heading back to pick up his daughter around 3 a.m. but never made it.

"He's been in the Iraqi conflict twice, been shot at, and he gets killed by some driver going on the wrong side of the road," Kay Hendrix said.

Kay Hendrix was supposed to ride with her husband, but she had fallen asleep instead.

"He didn't wake me up, or I would have been in that car too," she said.

Authorities are not sure right now where Natt entered the interstate going the wrong way or how long he had been traveling in the path of oncoming traffic.

"I don't know if he was drunk or high. I don't know anything about the guy, but you don't go up the wrong side of the interstate," Kay Hendrix said. "A senseless person driving the wrong way on the interstate. It's just not fair."

Kay Hendrix, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said her husband was loving, caring and gave more than he ever got. He also spent 40-plus years in the military.

"He was always grinning and smiling. He was my rock. The best friend anyone could ever have. He'll do anything for you," she said. "Now he's soaring with the angels."

Metro police said there were no signs of alcohol or drugs in Natt's vehicle, but they are awaiting the results of a toxicology report to see if he had anything in his system that could've contributed to the fatal crash.

TDOT traffic engineers went to the area near Fesslers Lane on Monday to check to make sure all the "wrong-way" and "do not enter" signage was properly displayed, and it was.

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