TRIBUTE TO JOHN D. MURPHY; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 29
(Extensions of Remarks - March 15, 2000)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E320-E321]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       TRIBUTE TO JOHN D. MURPHY


                          HON. CARRIE P. MEEK

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 15, 2000

  Mrs. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a kind 
and decent man who lived his life helping others, and lost his life 
helping others.
  John D. Murphy coached youth basketball and volunteered in his 
community. He attended the Million Man March, as well as the protest in 
Tallahassee against Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida Plan to dismantle our 
state's affirmative action program. He was always thinking of others.
  On the way home from the One Florida march, he came upon a chain-
reaction auto accident that killed two people and injured 24. Despite 
the pleadings of his sisters, John Murphy left his van and went to help 
the injured. He was kill when a tractor-trailer filled with lumber 
overturned and buried him on the highway.
  Mr. Speaker, John Murphy's sudden and tragic death is a source of 
great grief in his family and throughout our community. I join with his 
loved ones and those whose lives he touched in extending my deepest 
sympathy for their loss.
  I would like to submit an article about John Murphy that appeared in 
the Miami Herald:

                 [From the Miami Herald, Mar. 10, 2000]

               Loved Ones Feel Loss of I-10 Pileup Victim

                           (By Adam Ramirez)

       His sisters begged him not to leave the van and venture 
     into the smoke-filled highway, but John D. Murphy insisted on 
     trying to help motorists injured in Wednesday's horrific 23-
     vehicle crash on Interstate 10 near Wellborn, Fla.
       Murphy, 36, who attended the Million Man March and coached 
     youth sports for 12 years, was coming home from the protest 
     of Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida plan in Tallahassee. The 
     Plantation man was killed when a tractor-trailer filled with 
     lumber overturned and buried him on the highway.
       ``That's the kind of guy John was--he was always trying to 
     help people, no matter who they were,'' longtime friend 
     Calvin Joy said outside Murphy's Plantation home in Park 
     Estates. ``He devoted his life to helping people--and that's 
     how he died.''
       Two other people were killed and at least 24 injured in the 
     chain-reaction accident caused in part by heavy smoke on the 
     highway about 90 miles east of Tallahassee in northern 
     Florida, officials said. Also killed were truck driver Ben L. 
     Helmuth III of Claxton, Ga., and Sheila Lindeck, 43, of 
     Jacksonville, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

                            VERY SCARY SCENE

       ``It was a very scary scene when Mr. Murphy ran in there--
     smoke and flames every-where,'' said Scott Pate, Suwannee 
     County deputy emergency management director who arrived first 
     on the scene. ``He was a true Good Samaritan.''
       Twenty-three cars and trucks slammed into one another about 
     8 a.m. after some of them slowed and stopped when they 
     suddenly came upon a cloud of smoke.
       Seventeen miles of highway near Wellborn were closed after 
     the accident but were reopened Thursday morning.
       Murphy's sisters, Lydia and Jeryle Murphy, watched 
     helplessly as he walked into the smoke and flames. A manager 
     at BellSouth for six years, Murphy was driving a rental van 
     with his sister and two of their children when they hit a 
     thick patch of smoke and pulled over.

                           MISSING HALF HOUR

       ``John told them he saw people in the fire and smoke, and 
     he had to go help them,'' Joy said. Murphy had been the best 
     man in Joy's wedding. ``About 30 minutes later, his sisters 
     were asking police to find him.'' They didn't realize he was 
     only a few feet away.
       Erik Gebauer, of Melbourne, said he was driving a Mustang 
     that slid under a tractor-trailer.
       ``I don't understand how I lived through that,'' Gebauer 
     said Wednesday, his voice

[[Page E321]]

     shaking. ``All I can remember was pushing that freaking door. 
     I felt death right behind me. I can't believe I made it.''
       Murphy drove the family to the state capital Monday night 
     to participate in Tuesday's march against One Florida and was 
     driving home Wednesday morning.
       A longtime volunteer, Murphy served as a basketball and 
     football coach for children ages 8 to 12 at nearby YMCA and 
     Police Athletic League teams. A graduate of Tampa Technical 
     College, he prided himself on being notoriously frugal, Joy 
       ``He would drive five miles out of his way if he found gas 
     two pennies cheaper,'' Joy said with a chuckle. ``John was 
     very active, on the MLK committee and active on city boards 
     in Plantation. But more than anything, he loved his little 
     daughter with all his heart--nothing came before her.''