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Madison Cawthorn's former friend says rising star Republican lied about accident that left him paralyzed — and friend never left him to die in a 'fiery tomb'

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He says it just didn't happen like that

Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images

Bradley Ledford, a former close friend of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), says that Cawthorn lied about the 2014 car wreck that left him partially paralyzed.

In 2017 remarks at Patrick Henry College, Cawthorn said that Ledford crashed the vehicle — in which Cawthorn was a passenger — and fled, leaving him to die in a "fiery tomb."

Cawthorn was left wheelchair-bound and with limited use of his legs as a result of the horrific accident, which took place when he was just 18 years old.

What are the details?

In his first public remarks on the wreck, Ledford told the Washington Post that he never left his friend's side, and, in fact, pulled him from the wreckage as soon as he was able to free himself.

The outlet reported, "The two were traveling [from attending Spring break in Florida] back to North Carolina when Ledford nodded off while driving on Interstate 4 in Florida and crashed into a concrete construction barrier, Ledford said in a deposition. Ledford said Cawthorn, while wearing a seat belt harness, had been sleeping in a 'laid back position' in a manner that the harness did not touch Cawthorn's body, and with 'his feet being on the dash[board].'"

"Ledford said in his deposition that when the van crashed, he saw Cawthorn was unconscious," the outlet continued. "The doors were jammed, and the vehicle began to be enveloped in flames. Ledford said he exited through a window, 'unbuckled Madison and proceeded to pull him out while a bystander came in and helped me.'"

"It hurt very badly that [Cawthorn] would say something as false as that," Ledford told the outlet of the remarks. "That is not at all what happened. I pulled him out of the car the second that I was able to get out of the car."

Cawthorn, now 25 years old, also previously said that he was "declared dead" following the wreck, but the outlet pointed out that Cawthorn was "incapacitated," and not dead.

In Cawthorn's 2017 remarks on the accident, he said, "[Ledford] was my brother, my best friend. And he leaves me in a car to die in a fiery tomb. He runs to safety deep in the woods and just leaves me in a burning car as the flames start to lick my legs and curl up and burn my left side. Fortunately, there was several bystanders who come by and they break the window open that they pulled me out to safety and they sat me down. The paramedics arrive and decided that I'm gone and I have no pulse, I have no breath. And I was, I was declared dead on the scene. For whatever reason, may it be adrenaline or divine intervention, I definitely believe it's the latter, I had a deep inhale of breath."

The outlet also reported that during his deposition regarding the accident, Cawthorn did not say that Ledford left him for dead.

"Instead, he said, 'I have no memory from the accident,'" the Post noted. "An accident report and other records from the Florida Highway Patrol say Cawthorn was incapacitated and in critical condition, not that he was declared dead."

The Post reported that Cawthorn declined an interview request when reached for comment. Huff Post, which also reported on the allegations, also noted that Cawthorn did not respond to a request for comment.

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