Chaplains on scene of deadly I-75 crash for victim's family and - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chaplains on scene of deadly I-75 crash for victim's family and first responders

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Police investigators and emergency crews were on the scene of a deadly traffic crash for more than 12 hours, working to clear the scene and to figure out how this crash happened.
Chattanooga police say this is the largest number of fatalities involved in a single motor vehicle crash in the past 10 years.

"The easiest word to describe it.... is horrific," said Chattanooga Police Lt. David Gibb,  "A lot of sadness on my part. I've been involved in traffic fatalities for almost 27 years now, by far one of the worst I've seen."
Thursday's crash killed 6 people and injured 12 more.
Police say the driver of a semi-truck was unable to stop and crashed  into 8 other vehicles.
During any major traffic crash, Chattanooga police make sure at least one local chaplain is on the scene.
Thursday night, there were at least 4.
Chaplain Ben Brychta was one of them.

"You just have to identify with them, and know what they did the best they were trained to do and they did a great job," Brychta said.

Chaplains are there to give comfort and encouragement.
But not only to police and first responders, for anyone who needs it.
Brychta had to tell one father his child did not survive the crash.

"He was in shock, he said he's ok, but he wasn't," Brychta said, "And we just offered to go with him and one of our folks did go with him to his house."

When police arrive to a scene with multiple fatalities, they say it's hard to ignore the emotions that come with the job.

"There's feelings of grief, there's feelings of guilt, wishing you could do more, wishing you had been able to do something differently," Jonathan Parker said.

Jonathan Parker is the lead Pastor of Cop Church Chattanooga --- it's a new group of police officers helping other officers to heal after responding to traumatic events.

"We have coping mechanisms," Parker said, "But if we're not careful those same coping mechanisms that help us on the job, can have destructive effects on our family."

Throughout his 27 years on the job, Lt. Gibb says he has dealt with the painful part of law enforcement, by having a place to talk about it.

"I've learned to not hold things in, when you bottle up, you end up hitting a wall, you have to talk to people, let it out," Lt. Gibb said.

First responders and police all go through a debrief which includes counseling.
But for many, the grief isn't always immediate.
If there are first responders who were involved in this crash, or any crash, and need these services, the Pastors at Cop Church Chattanooga are willing to help.

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