Husband and wife recover at VCU from violent encounter on I-95

Posted at 12:01 AM, Oct 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-17 06:19:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Betty  and Thomas Doyle were on their way to their son’s Florida home last week to drop off some furniture. But their plans took a terrifying detour to VCU Medical Center where both are now receiving care.

Their pick-up truck was packed that dreary Thursday night as they headed south on I-95. They were near mile marker 67 when there was a loud pop, then confusion.

"A truck passed on left lane, they were in center lane, and then all of a sudden the driver-side window shattered and debris came across the cab,“ said Charles Brinkmann, Betty Doyle’s twin brother.

Thomas Doyle was driving, and his brother-in-law says he told his wife he could no longer steer. Their Chevy truck hit the jersey wall, as Betty grabbed the wheel to drive to the shoulder.

The State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations is working the case, where they say at this point there's no evidence to suggest a shot was fired.

But multiple police sources from other agencies tell CBS-6 a different story.  They say pellets from a shot gun shell  injured the Pennsylvania couple.

"A shot gun fires a shell and there's the base with 15 pellets about the size of a .38 caliber."

Brinkmann says his brother-in-law suffered life-changing injuries, saying he's now paralyzed from the chest down.

"He hit his back and severed his spinal cord," said Brinkmann.

Brinkmann says his twin sister Betty's condition is stable but critical.

"She has pieces of debris in her neck,” he said.  “They're trying to see if they should remove one, because it's next to an artery."

Gun expert David Hancock points out shotgun pellets are different from bullets.

"There are similar ballistics as far as energy and speed, but the exact spread is different," said Hancock.

Police sources describe Thomas Doyle as having multiple wounds to the neck, which experts say suggests the gunman was close to him.

"No more than 10 yards, but likely closer," said Hancock.

State police say their investigation continues.

Betty Doyle we are told is a much-loved track coach at Archbishop Wood, a Catholic school in Pennsylvania.  Her team is eager to hear about the progress she and her husband are making to return home.