WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Chris Osborne has worked for NASCAR teams for the better part of 20 year and he's certainly seen his fair share of nasty wrecks on the racetrack. But in December 2015 a crash on a country road in Randolph County changed his life and the life of his family forever.
He’s driven the big rigs and worked on racecars, getting a big break working for Richard Petty’s NASCAR team in the late 90s. These days he’s a spotter for NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver Matt Kenseth. His job is to stand on top of the grandstands and relay the crucial information that keeps the driver safe on the track.
He has a split seconds to be either right or wrong and it sometimes happens quicker than he can press the button on his radio to warn of trouble. That’s all just part of racing. But what happened on a country road near Trinity back in December is something no spotter could’ve talked him through.
"A car came around the corner at a pretty high rate of speed and wound up losing control and hit us head-on," Chris recalls in a recent sit down interview with his longtime friend FOX8 Chief Meteorologist Van Denton.
Chris, his wife Melissa and son Austin were all severely injured. Chris spent six days in the hospital with a badly broken leg. His son, Austin, was the least injured of the family. Chris' wife, Melissa, spent nearly a month at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center enduring major surgeries and recovering from serious injuries.
"We were just wrong place at the wrong time and an individual that had a track record of not making the right decisions at times and this one here was at the expense of my family," Chris says.
He had to sit out the first five races of the NASCAR season, only able to sit at home and watch the races on TV and listen to the in-car communications on his computer.
His son Austin put college on hold. He was enrolled at UNC-Charlotte but after the wreck he stayed home to help his parents.
"Words can’t explain how proud you are of a kid who does that for his mom and dad," Chris said.
Chris was able to get back on the roof to spot for Kenseth at the Martinsville race in April but he says both he and his wife have a long way to go toward full recovery.
"I wasn’t 100 percent and I’m still not today and you know the first couple of races of standing as much as you had to, the pain was excruciating."
But even as they deal with recovery, they’re grateful.
"We’re all just very fortunate to be alive, we’re fighting, we go through a lot of pain on a daily basis. We don't take tomorrow for granted anymore. We live every day like it’s our last one. I think it’s definitely brought every aspect of our family closer together."