MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) - A veteran was trucking across the south in his mule-powered wagon when he was hit by a suspected texting driver.
Charlie Peters said it was a wonderful, rewarding trip until the crash which killed, what he called, his two best friends. But it also revealed something he did not know that will now likely save his life.
"He was definitely charismatic character. He had a lot of charisma to him," said Crittenden County Sheriff Mike Allen.
Peters who spoke at Allen's church about his journey to travel in a mule-drawn covered wagon. Peters grew up in West Memphis, his uncle, Jessie Maxwell, who lives near Turrell went on the trip with Peters for a bit.
"Everyone we passed stopped on the side of the road or anywhere else and waved," said Maxwell.
Peters, a Vietnam veteran, now lives in Michigan. He wanted to take a southern route to his father's grave in Oklahoma, but he also thanks veterans along the way after an encounter in Florida.
"A young man in an antique store said thank you for your service. He was the first person that ever said it in 45 years. I was so moved by it I decided I wanted to make another veteran feel as good as I did," he said.
Peters bought two mules he trained for a year Mattie and Cassie, named after his granddaughters.
"They were my best friends. We had been together for a year," he said.
Peters lost his best friends in Ozark, Arkansas when an 18-year-old girl who was texting and driving ran into the back of his wagon knocking him out and killing the mules.
Peters went to the hospital and had a test that showed he had broken ribs and kidney cancer in the early stages.
"Everything on this trip seemed to happen for a reason. Everything was a blessing," said Peters.
The 18-year-old girl was charged with texting while driving.
Peters plans to continue his trek in Ozark in the Spring.
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