ATLANTA, Ga. — A Suwanee man was hit and killed by an Uber driver who accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake when he drove his SUV into the victim and two other cars at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to police.
Randal Espey, 62, died Saturday when Atlanta police say he was hit in front of a South Terminal gate by a speeding driver. Espey was with his wife at the time and the couple was preparing for a Memorial Day weekend trip to Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
“We’re never early to the airport, but we were that day,” said Piper Espey, Randal’s wife.
She says he had just unloaded their car near the gate and the two were preparing to check in their bags before parking their car.
“He said, ‘Hop out, babe! It’s time to go!’” she recalled her husband telling her right before the crash.
The happiness turned to heartbreak right before noon on Saturday when the crash happened.
“I just heard like speeding, and it caught my eye,” she said. “My husband just stepped out of the door, and I screamed his name, and he looked up and that was it.”
Atlanta police arrested Mesfin Abebe, 39, after he told police he’s an Uber driver and that he jumped in his SUV because it was still in drive after he dropped off a passenger. Abebe said he hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and crashed into Espey and two other cars, according to police.
Abebe was charged with vehicular homicide and failure to yield to a pedestrian. He has bonded out of the Clayton County Jail and is awaiting a court date.
“It’s important that people please understand the responsibility behind a car and how quickly you can change a family’s world,” said Piper Espey.
His family says he enjoyed seeing all three of his kids get married recently and he looked forward to being a fun grandpa someday.
“He had so much grace for compassion for the people around him,” said Brady Espey, one of Randal’s sons.
His children want their dad’s generosity as a businessman and a family man to never be forgotten.
“We’re going to miss him so much,” said Grayson Middlebrooks, his other son, “but his legacy is going to live on.”
Randal Espey was a supporter of the Banja Restoration Mission which helps children in Zambia.
Uber released a statement to Channel 2 Action News on Tuesday night that read: “Our hearts are heavy with the news of this tragic incident, and we’re keeping Mr. Espey’s loved ones in our thoughts. We removed the driver’s access to the platform and stand ready to assist law enforcement however we can.”