Man who survived truck plowing through his home describes moment of impact and wife's legacy

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 02:13:15-04

The widow of a beloved Lakeland woman killed when a suspected drunk driver plowed through through home, describes the moment of impact like a bomb going off.

Jan Folds died instantly in the horrific crash around 4:45 in the morning on October 13th. She had just walked into the front bedroom — her prayer room — after making coffee for her husband, Rev. Wyatt Folds.

Wyatt was up early for bible study.

“Just as I got to the kitchen, that truck came through. Missed me by maybe three or four feet. It was like an explosion went off. The house just blew up. And stuff came flying by me and I wasn’t touched,” he said in his first interview since the tragedy.

A week and a half later, Wyatt is slowly beginning to clean-up and rebuild, even though there’s no bringing back his biggest loss, his wife of 53 years, Jan.

MORE: Wife of Reverend dies instantly after drunk driver smashes through Lakeland home

Over the weekend, as many as 700 came out to pay their respects to Jan and celebrate her life. She was a beloved member of the Lakeland community.

Wyatt tells ABC Action News that his family is starting to understand just how many lives she touched through her ministry, and how strangers always seemed to become friends

“You never know when you’re going to touch somebody’s life. You just don’t,” he said. “I have probably received about 200 cards and I would say about 30 percent I don’t know who they are. No clue who they are,” he said.

Wyatt said the first few days after the crash were difficult and included sleepless nights and flashbacks to the moment the truck hit.

New documents reveal the driver, Ryan Tallent of Plant City, hit the house at nearly 70 miles per hour — the speed limit is 40.

Police arrested him on suspicion of driving drunk, something he’s faced before.

“My intent is to hopefully be able to talk to this guy someday. And let him know that I’m ok, and I know he’s not, and see how the Lord can open up that conversation,” he said. “But I think it’s important to let him know that I’m not living with a grudge.”

After the dust settled through the home, crews cleared out the debris and Wyatt found most of their belongings, with one exception: Jan’s prayer book filled with names of people she was always praying for.

“I guess she took it with her to give to the Lord. I know it’s not true, but it’s kind of neat,” he said with a smile.

Perhaps, her final selfless act.