Domestic Violence Is Man's Motive in Storefront Crash
by Brent Frazier
COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Police this weekend said the driver behind the
wheel of that runaway pickup truck was Eric Whitaker, 40; they said the motive
behind his off-road rant was to regain control over his 37-year-old girlfriend.
After crashing two times Friday morning, including right through the
all-glass storefront of a busy service station, Eric Whitaker was flown by
LifeFlight helicopter to Vanderbilt in Nashville, where he was in critical
condition Friday night. A Whitaker family member told NewsChannel 5 Saturday
afternoon that the man's health is improving.
Columbia Police are branding this explosive incident a case of domestic
violence, pure and simple.
And Whitaker's refusal to allow anything to come between him and his
girlfriend, who'd dashed inside the mini-mart for help, is indicative of a
classic domestic abuser, according to staff members at the YWCA of Nashville
and middle Tennessee.
"They will do that anywhere, at any time," said Pamela Sessions,
vice president of programs at the YW. "And nothing is going to stop them
from doing that."
Sessions said while Whitaker's service station drive-through is an extreme
case of violence, it is not surprising. Nor is it a shock at all that Whitaker
had zero regard for the innocent civilians who, in his eyes, threatened to come
between his lover and him.
"So, for people who are in the presence when this act occurs, they are
at risk for being harmed as well," Sessions explained. "So, whether
it's in the workplace, it's in a public parking lot, in the neighborhood,
whoever is around that person is potentially at risk."
Sessions urged women all over Tennessee, who might be involved in a violent,
intimate relationship, to consider calling for help. The YWCA's 24-hour Crisis
and Information Line is: (615) 242-1199; or, toll-free, (800) 334-4628.