MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A man has been charged with killing a 13-year-old girl in a DUI crash Sunday night.
"She has a future coming in, and he took it away," James Thomas said.
Thomas has a pain in his chest and shoulder from the crash, but it's nothing compared to the pain he feels after losing Vernita Williams.
"To lose an innocent life of a child to an irresponsible drunk driver is such a devastating tragedy," Williams' family said in a statement. "Protect others by protecting yourself by not driving after consuming alcohol...please!"
"I'm so sad because of the fact that she was in my truck, and it hurts me. It really hurts me, and I'm going to think about that," Thomas said.
Thomas was driving Williams and her family to dinner when his car got a flat tire. Thomas pulled over to the emergency shoulder lane of Interstate 240.
That's the last thing Thomas remembers.
Ather Scott, 43, crashed into Thomas' car.
Witnesses said Scott was swerving in and out of different lanes of traffic. He eventually crashed into Thomas' car, forcing that car into a utility pole.
"The poles were down. All I know, people were pulling me out the car," Thomas said.
Officers noted Scott's car contained open beer cans and a pint of vodka.
Scott faces criminal charges of vehicle homicide-reckless, vehicle homicide - DUI, six counts of aggravated assault, reckless driving, DUI, driving while license revoked, and financial responsibility in relation to the crash.
Investigators said this was not Scott's first accident that injured other people. Three years ago, Scott ran a stop sign. He plowed into another car.
Scott pleaded guilty to vehicular assault. He also has a history of driving with a suspended license dating back at least 8 years.
Thomas said he knows things could have been worse, but he can't help but think what if.
"Maybe if I waited two or three minutes later, it would have never happened. You never know," Thomas said.
In addition to Williams, Thomas and two other children were injured in the crash. The survivors were taken to the hospital in non-critical condition.