Man helped defuse confrontation after wreck, trooper says
Draven Watson learned hand-to-hand combat as a prison correctional officer several years ago. Last Thursday afternoon, he used some of what he learned at the scene of an accident on Connelly Springs Road to disarm a van driver who had a gun and hold him until law enforcement arrived.
The gun was not loaded, Trooper Tommy Williams of the N.C. Highway Patrol said, but no one there knew that and the situation could have turned out much worse.
"He did take control of the guy and helped us as far as keeping him down," Williams said. "It could have gone bad."
Watson, 42, who lives in Hudson, was driving to Cajah's Mountain Family Medical Care on Thursday with his wife, infant son and mother in his Ford F150 pickup and saw that traffic was stopped at the intersection of Oakmont Drive past skid marks and a considerable amount of debris in the road.
As he pulled around the traffic to see what was going on, "I saw several people around a work van that had struck a ditch," Watson said. The van had been going east on Oakmont Drive and skidded across both lanes of Connelly Springs Road, striking a stop sign and coming to rest in the ditch on the north side of the road.
"I saw he was spinning his wheels trying to get away. I thought about blocking him in, but I had my family with me, so I pulled up beside him" and asked the van's driver to turn off his ignition, Watson said.
"He told me the brakes went out," he said. "I smelled alcohol on his breath. He complied, but once he opened the door on the driver's side, he turned and bit me on my hand while I was helping him out of the van. I told him he needed to calm down."
Watson noticed another man in front of the van, saying "He's not going anywhere, I've got a gun pointed at him."
"The van driver said, 'I'm not worried about that,' and he began to reach down for something," Watson said. "A kid standing near me said he (the van driver) had a gun. I saw it flopping around in his back pocket and jerked it out."
Used a technique called the "bent wrist take-down," Watson made the man sit down.
"My background all came into play," Watson said of the time he spent in 2000-05 at Western Youth Institution in Morganton and Alexander Correctional Institution. "My law enforcement mode kicked in. I held him for about two minutes until police arrived."
Aaron Wayne Douglas Sr., 44, of Frank Trail, Lenoir, was charged with driving while impaired and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His bond was set at $26,500 secured. He has four previous DWI convictions, in 1989, 1991, 1992 and 2001, according to the N.C. Division of Adult Correction.
Williams said that while he is grateful for help from private citizens as witnesses, only those with law enforcement training should think about getting directly involved.
"When you do that, it could be dangerous," Williams said. "Anytime somebody does something, they're taking a chance."