Life-threatening: Ex-pastor collides with stopped truck
Gregory John Briehl had come a long way since his arrest in 2006 for the child porn possession and surreptitious filming of women in his home, which cost him jail time and his reputation as a pastor and counselor.
He remarried–- to Ruth Graham, daughter of world-famous evangelist Billy Graham–- and seemed to be getting his life back on track, say those close to him. He was headed to Richmond to take care of some business Tuesday morning when a bag of trash fell from a garbage truck in the passing lane of a busy highway. And now he's fighting for his life.
Virginia Waste Services driver Ricky Howell, 46, had pulled his 2004 Mack truck over in the left lane of Route 288 south and partially on the shoulder to retrieve the bag of trash that had fallen into the left lane. He was climbing out of the truck when Briehl's 1999 Land Rover approached and smashed into the rear of the truck.
The Route 288 accident was reported at 9:25am September 28 on the James River Bridge in Goochland County, about a mile south of Route 6, according to the Virginia State Police.
Although wearing his seatbelt, Briehl, 56, was seriously injured and flown to Virginia Commonweatlh University Medical Center.
"It's a bleak situation," says the Reverend Tom Leland, minister of University Baptist Church where Ruth Graham is a member and was ordained August 1. Briehl has multiple injuries, is on dialysis, and has an infection that's threatening his arm, says Leland.
"The car was almost shorn in half," says Leland. "It's amazing he wasn't killed instantly."
Briehl resides with Graham in Earlysville, and he has three sons from a previous marriage.
"He was on track to do some mentoring based on his experiences as a counselor and his other life experiences," says Leland.
Leland had just spoken to Graham when a reporter called, and says she told him, "When we married, we fully committed ourselves to each other, to stand by each other and to trust God to lead us into the future."
And, says Leland, "She reiterated that his life had turned around and he was headed in a really good direction when this tragedy occurred."
Trash truck driver Howell has been charged with reckless driving and improperly stopping on an interstate.