Dr. Eric Raefsky, a well-respected and long-time Hermitage doctor of oncology, was killed in a tragic two-car crash in Wilson County Tuesday night.
The driver who hit him, 20-year-old Clayton Rogers, is now facing criminal charges in his death.
Rogers was driving on Stewarts Ferry Pike around 9 p.m. when the Tennessee Highway Patrol said he failed to yield to the traffic light at the intersection of South Mt. Juliet Road in Rural Hill, just south of Mt. Juliet.
Rogers slammed into the driver’s side of Dr. Raefsky’s car, forcing both vehicles into a ditch off the side of the road.
At least three calls were placed to 911 after several people witnessed the crash.
“There looks to be one man extremely injured. It was up on a bank; the vehicle is up a bank. It looks like his head is against the steering wheel and he’s not moving,” one caller told dispatchers.
“There has been a major accident and someone is severely hurt,” another caller said.
SLIDESHOW: Doctor killed in Wilson County crash
Raefsky, 59, was killed instantly. He is survived by his wife Tori and foster daughter Stacy Maciuk.
“He was the father that I never had. He set the standard really high when I married someone,” Maciuk said. “I can say that and it was because of his character, I mean, you can’t find anyone with a better heart.”
The CEO of Tennessee Oncology, Dr. Jeff Patton, released a statement Wednesday on their loss.
“Losing Dr. Raefsky is a tremendous loss for Tennessee Oncology and our patients. We all lost a fantastic colleague. We lost a true friend,” he said.
Raefsky and his wife dedicated their lives to helping others. They raised and helped save the lives of dozens of rescue dogs over the years.
“They gave away lots of their time and resources,” Dr. Patton said, “but rescue dogs were their true passion.”
Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue in Nashville, where Tori is a board member, spoke of their community’s loss on Facebook Wednesday.
“One of our incredible fosters lost his life to a drunk driver. We are all reeling. The grief his wife is experiencing is unfathomable,” the organization wrote.
Judith Smith, one of thousands of patients treated by Dr. Raefsky over his career that spanned 30-plus years, is now cancer free, thanks to her oncologist.
“He was just a wonderful, wonderful man,” she said, “and it’s not fair at all what happened to him.
According to the traffic report, authorities found evidence Rogers was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time. The results of a blood test are pending.
“When he got out of his car, he kind of stumbled a little bit,” said John Davidson, who witnessed the crash.
He was the first person who called 911 after it happened.
“It was a sad scene all around,” Davidson added.
Rogers faces one count of felony reckless endangerment and a citation for failing to yield to a traffic signal.
Further charges are pending. The investigation is ongoing.
According to his criminal history, Rogers was charged last year with possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance. Rogers also violated his probation which he was on for underage alcohol consumption.