Tigers' Peterson recounts team bus crash in minors: 'I was almost killed'
Dustin Peterson is a lucky guy.
While playing with the Atlanta Braves' Single-A affiliate in 2015, the Detroit Tigers rookie and his then-teammates were nearly killed in a horrific bus crash.
"We hit a berm and it launched us in the air. We were flipping in midair and landed on the side. David Peterson was a big old pitcher for us, a broad guy, and all his weight - boom - landed on my neck. I was almost killed," the 24-year-old recently described to Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press.
"When we landed, all of the windows shattered on the right side, just blew out," Peterson added. "People’s limbs were dragging outside the window. It wasn’t asphalt. It was grass and we were near a railroad. I think, if we would have landed on asphalt, anybody (who) was in the window seat would have lost limbs."
After climbing out of an emergency exit through the roof of the bus amid the moans of his peers and the chaos of the collision, Peterson was examined at a nearby hospital. The doctor had bad news for him.
"He goes, 'You can see here, it looks like a fracture in your neck. We have to immobilize you. We think you will have to get emergency surgery on your neck,'" Peterson explained. "He goes, 'Don’t sneeze because you could really fracture your neck.'"
It turned out Peterson didn't fracture his neck but was diagnosed with severe whiplash. He'd play again that season, though he struggled with neck pain.
He eventually made a full recovery and debuted for the Braves in May 2018, but his two-game big-league stint was short-lived and he was designated for assignment in September of that year.
The Tigers took a chance on the former second-round draft choice, claiming him from Atlanta. He's hit just .176/.222/.235 in 13 games for Detroit so far this season, though he believes he's going to figure things out soon and help contribute to his club's success.
"It’s been super surreal," Peterson said of playing in the majors. "I love everything about it. It’s a lot of fun, everyone gets along really well. When we start putting things together, I think we are going to be a pretty dangerous team. We are all just taking it day by day and enjoying the moment."
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