DORR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The internet may love the video of a car jumping an overpass on US-131, but the driver who lived it does not.
“I don’t find it funny or amusing,” Chandler Cockerham said of the surveillance video that’s circulating the web. “Kind a like reliving a nightmare every time I get on the internet.”
Cockerham, 25, told Target 8 he fell asleep behind the wheel seconds before his car drifted onto the snow-patched embankment between the Dorr exit ramp and the southbound lanes of US-131.
“All (it) took was the one second for me to doze off then that happened,” Cockerham explained in a text exchange with Target 8.
The embankment’s incline launched Cockerham’s black Chevy Impala up and over the 142nd Avenue overpass, an astonishing scene captured on a nearby business’s surveillance camera.
“I’m very grateful that no one else (was hurt). I’m (also) very grateful that my children get to still be raised by their father,” Cockerham said in a text.
His vehicle landed on its side in a ditch just south of the overpass, in between the entrance ramp to US-131 and the highway’s southbound lanes.
“I feel terrible. My nose is broken, and my head is swollen,” Cockerham wrote by text in the days after the accident.
A witness who assisted on scene told News 8 the driver of the car had sustained a deep cut above one eye.
The same good Samaritan said he spotted a car seat and initially feared a child was in the vehicle, but the driver quickly assured witnesses he was alone in the car.
Cockerham, a single father of two young children, told Target 8 he’d stayed over at a friend’s house and was on his way home to Kalamazoo at the time of the crash, which occurred shortly after 2 p.m. on Jan. 13.
“I drank probably two mixed drinks and a six pack of beer and slept for four hours, woke up, ate something, and had to get back home so I started to drive. I did not feel intoxicated or tired and then in the blink of an eye everything changed,” Cockerham wrote by text.
Michigan State Police reported Cockerham showed “multiple signs of intoxication” following the crash. They’re awaiting results of a lab test to determine his blood alcohol level at the time of the incident.
“Results could return from 1 to 3 months but that’s a guess,” Michigan State Police Special Lt. DuWayne Robinson wrote in an email exchange with Target 8.
“The driver’s license was already suspended so he shouldn’t be driving at all. Hopefully, he doesn’t have access to a vehicle,” Robinson wrote.
Cockerham, whose driver’s license was suspended in March 2021, is currently recovering from his injuries at home.
“This year tore me apart … Love my kids to death but their daddy has grown weaker this year,” Cockerham wrote.
State Police records show the 25-year-old has a prior arrest for operating while intoxicated, as well as convictions on a drug offense and fleeing police. His driving record shows two prior crashes, including one in which he was cited for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.
“I didn’t feel groggy or tired one bit,” Cockerham said of the minutes leading up to the Jan. 13 crash. “Just passed right out for a split second… When I woke up, I was almost to the grass at the bottom of the hill and I looked down and seen about 75 (on the speedometer).”
“I’m so grateful that nobody else was hurt or injured,” Cockerham wrote.
“Definitely was not trying to hurt myself. I can never take myself away from my babies,” Cockerham said after Target 8 asked early in the text exchange if he had driven off the road on purpose.
Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch told Target 8 her office has not yet received any reports nor warrant requests from Michigan State Police regarding the incident.
“Once we do, we will review that material to determine appropriate charges,” Koch wrote in an email.
MSP has said it will seek various charges, including operating while intoxicated.