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Centerville firefighter survives 18-wheeler crash, graduates from Sam Houston State

Posted at 10:30 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 23:30:55-05

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A firefighter in Centerville has graduated from Sam Houston State University, but it was life-altering events that happened along the way that would later impact his ability to cross the stage, but through resilience, he did.

“From the time I could walk, I was on the fire truck with my dad, my brother, several others within the department,” said Colton Adams, a Sam Houston State graduate and Centerville Firefighter. “My dad and the current fire chief, he’s the reason I love that department so much and the job.”

A family full of serving others, Colton Adams — along with another firefighter — barricaded the inner to left lanes of I-45 to adhere to a rear-end collision.

Moments after, Colton’s dad, John Adams, Centerville’s assistant fire chief, hears of another accident at the same scene, not knowing it involved his son.

“I myself was in a panic, naturally,” John Adams said. “That hit me so hard, and everybody in my fire department knows I hate the interstate when we go to those accidents. I hate it because nobody slows down for us.”

“Here I am trying to figure out what’s going on,” he said. “My main thing is him. I don’t know details. As soon as I get in the truck, I picked the radio up and called the ambulance crew on scene and nobody answered me.”

For Colton, he was shocked to be in the situation himself.

“As long as I’ve been around that department, I thought I would’ve been the last one to get hurt, but at the end of the day, I’m very thankful that it was me because I overcame it,” he said.

That accident involving him occurred on June 6.

“I hear run,” Colton Adams said. “Jump. When I look back, all I see is red coming at me between the fire truck and the median. Red 18-wheeler never hit the brakes, you know 75-80 miles per hour coming at me. Laying in the dirt, I didn’t know if I was gone — live or die.”

Colton said he considered running into the lanes of oncoming traffic to avoid being hit by the 18-wheeler.

His dad said the hardest part to accept is what the truck driver didn’t do.

“18 wheeler coming up this lane, he obviously couldn’t see red lights, blue lights,” John Adams said. “There’s DPS cars everywhere, firetrucks, cones, and all the traffic is in the other lane. He just continues to drive in the middle of them.”

“He never touched the brakes,” he said. “There’s not a skid mark on that interstate highway nowhere. I drive it every day. I have a nightmare every time I drive by thinking about it.”

For Colton, losing his leg from the knee down wasn’t the tough part — it was recovering his mental health.

“The mental side of this was worse than anything,” Colton Adams said. “The physical pain was nothing. Nights I didn’t sleep. There were times I wish the truck would’ve killed me because it would’ve made things a lot easier.”

Colton said many told him to take a break, but he refused.

“But finally, I found that fight and I told everybody this isn’t gone beat me,” he said. “I’m still going to serve the community. A lot of people thought I was going to change my career when this happened, prosthetic leg or not, I’m not changing my career. I’m still going to do what I’ve always done. I started my statistics class in the hospital.”

While Colton and his dad still want answers from the crash scene, they are happy to celebrate him graduating with his degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in General Business.

“I wasn’t going to be in a wheelchair or crutches, I was going to walk across the stage and that’s what I did,” Colton said.

“He did it,” John Adams said. “He walked across that stage.”

Colton Adams embodies the university’s motto, "A measure of a life is its service."

From Colton, he would like to sincerely thank his friends and family, his brothers and sisters with Centerville Fire Department, St. Joseph EMS, and Texas DPS Corporal Rusty Moore and Trooper Mike Asby, as well as the Leon County Sheriff's Office (Deputies Bud Trammel, Jimmy Gifford, Jordan Womack, and Jerry Nichols).