She Was Gone in a Heartbeat

Image 1 of 2

Gail Willis was headed to watch her two grandsons play soccer on Mothers Day, 2015 when another driver crossed the centerline and crashed into her car head-on.

Erik Jensen may have lived through a horrific accident that claimed the life of his live-in girlfriend, but the 50-year-old Carrollton resident said he doesn't feel like much of a survivor.

"I lost my home. I lost my girl. I lost my job. I lost... I lost everything," he said.

Mother's Day 2015. Looking at the pictures, it's remarkable anyone survived the accident. Passenger Gail Willis, on her way to watch her grandsons' soccer game, died when her car took the full head-on impact of a 1975 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible.

Gail's boyfriend Eric was helpless behind the wheel of their Altima.

"There was no time," he said after contacting the FOX 5 I-Team to talk about his story. "There was no time. When it came it was like one heartbeat. It was a heartbeat. And it was over."

Gail became the latest casualty in a frightening string of vehicular homicide cases in Douglas County. A Grand Jury indicted the driver of the other car, Roderic Alexander, after authorities say blood tests found evidence of "very recent marijuana use."

Alexander denied smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel. Prosecutors don't believe him.

"For those of us who are out on the street abiding by the law, it's like someone's playing Russian Roulette with our life," said Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner.

The crash left Jensen with three broken ribs, a broken ankle and a broken knee. He spent 20 days at Grady Hospital and another 60 in rehab. He lost his temp job at a warehouse and said he had no money to rent a place on his own. Since the accident, he said he spent some days living in his jeep, others on the couch of a friend. He applied for disability and a non-service related pension from the military where he served for seven years.

About a month after the accident Erik said he decided to finally get into the driver's side of his Jeep... just to move it a few feet. He wasn't expecting the flashbacks.

"It took me 15-20 minutes just to let go of the steering wheel," he said.

And he had a message for Georgia lawmakers: it makes no sense that the maximum punishment for an impaired driver accident is 15 years no matter whether the victim lives or dies.

FOX 5 I-Team: You think the maximum sentence for her death should be more than the maximum sentence for what happened to you.
Jensen: Absolutely, absolutely. I think about Gail's grandkids. She still had so much more to give.
Even if Erik's disability claims are granted, he said the most he will get is around 1000 dollars a month. He's counting on the other driver's insurance to pay his medical bills -- he said they've already exceeded $200,000.