Matlock aids friend in guardrail tragedy

A Farragut businessman has witnessed firsthand, through the actions of a friend who has turned tragedy and grief into a crusade to save lives, “that one person with passion and tremendous perseverance — who won’t take no for an answer — can truly make a difference.”

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock [R-District 21] was referring to Stephen Eimers of Lenoir City, whose daughter, 19-year-old Hannah Eimers, was killed Nov. 1, 2016, when her vehicle hit the end of a guardrail — a guardrail now deemed unsafe in 11 states thanks in part to Eimers.

Numerous fatalities have been attributed to these guardrail ends, which reportedly have been tearing through vehicles instead of absorbing vehicular impact by collapsing — by sliding.

“If you knew the entire story, what Steve has done, from November until now, he reached out in our state and literally across the country. Now 11 states will be removing these guardrails,” Matlock said while speaking to ACT For America during its monthly meeting Thursday, June 29, in Don Delfis Pancake House & Restaurant.

“The company that produced them truly had a faulty product and [was] misleading about what was done. They even failed to install them correctly. In our state we weren’t even putting bolts on it right,” Matlock added. “… I dare say before it’s all over with, the federal government will completely remove all these off the highways.

“Steve, a passionate and grieving father, took his energy and his desire to make a change. He came to Nashville. We had a hearing Monday [June 26]. [State Rep.] Jason Zachary [R-District 14 that includes Farragut and Concord] was with me. We brought Steve up and he told his story.”

Hannah “was a very attractive 19-year-old girl who was going to college up the Interstate and tragically when they fell asleep, went off the road, went into a guardrail — a guardrail which had been promised by the state of Tennessee that would shield from fatalities,” Matlock said. “It was designed, we were told, to collapse in a way like a gate, which slides when it’s hit.”

About his relationship with Eimers, “Steve had done some work in my wife’s home. He’s a window washer,” Matlock said. “A very hard-working guy and a patriot, really loves our country. … I think he has three or four adopted children — a large family. A wonderful man.”

About Eimers’ motive for filing a lawsuit against the state, Matlock said, “Steve’s not about a lawsuit, he’s about trying to make a change.”