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Time to get off the road…I still can’t believe it happened to me!

August 14, 2010
A red B-Double truck on the Sturt Highway at t...

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In May of 2008 I was driving an 18 wheeler loaded to 80,000 lbs. south on a two lane highway through Kansas on my way to Oklahoma. Every thing was going well on the trip it was a bright sunny day and I was heading back home but something happened that changed my life forever.

My trailer wheels caught the outside edge of the road and my truck was pulled sideways toward a half-pipe shaped drainage ditch that ran along the roadside. I had to act quick. My choices were either to let the truck roll sideways or try to use that drainage ditch like a snowboarder on a half-pipe. I chose the latter and went for a crazy ride.

The truck and trailer sped to the bottom of the ditch and I was fighting to keep control. I immediately noticed a problem coming at me at the speed of 60 miles an hour (the speed I was traveling when I hit the ditch.). There was a railroad driveway crossing the ditch and I was heading straight for it. I steered the truck toward the side of the ditch where the driveway started furthest from the road and my truck and trailer jumped the driveway. Everything in the cab of the truck seemed to explode. For a brief period everything seemed to be floating and I could not see my windshield. As the my loaded semi came back down I still tried to steer it only this time I was aiming back toward the road. The wheels hit the ground extremely hard but I kept the truck and trailer upright as it came to rolling skidding stop 15 feet before reaching the road.

I came out of that truck shaking so hard that I could barely walk but I had to see if anything was going to catch fire so I hurried.The top of the truck and trailer looked fine. The load I was hauling only shifted about a foot on the back corner o the trailer and it was alright all the way around but the bottom side was a completely different story.

Every axle on the truck was bent and both trailer axles were twisted. I measured 35 feet from where the truck tandems left the ground to where they landed so they hit the ground with an incredible force. Most of the force must have been on the tandem axles judging by the way they looked.

The highway patrol came by 15 minutes after my inspection and looked in awe of what he saw. He looked at my truck log and took my statement then he cited the accident as incidental  no fault of driver and took me to the nearest gas station 4 miles away and left me there. I called my company for help and then I walked back to the truck to sit with the load since help was on the way. I waited for 16 hours before a tow truck arrived and 16 more before I was given transportation to shelter.

I figured that as good as I came out of this horrible wreck it was time to get off the road. I do not have many times in my life that I can say that I am truly blessed and fortunate when it comes to every day events but how many people can actually say that they have jumped a loaded semi and walked away unscathed? I am so thankful for my time on this earth now. I still can’t believe it happened to me!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2010 10:48 am

    You’re right, Stuart.
    That is one helluva story!
    16 hours is a long time to think.
    Hope the decision you made turns out
    as safe and sound as you did in this ultra-mishap.

    • November 2, 2010 11:26 am

      I think that a mechanical engineering degree will keep me safe enough. I haven’t seen one of those guy wearing any stunt helmets…for that matter I don’t even think I seen one with a tan…ooo what a thought!

  2. Jessica permalink
    December 22, 2010 4:54 pm

    Wow, what an escape!
    I can see why my poem made you think of this blog!
    I can’t imagine driving something as large as that vehicle. But I know some women do.
    Thanks for the link.

    • December 22, 2010 5:05 pm

      That flash happened for me right at the moment when I was just about to hit the ground things started playing out in slow motion so to speak.
      Women drive Semi trucks all the time here but men still out number them 10 to 1. It is a thankless job and a dangerous one but the one thing that you do have is some freedom and a spectacular view of the country. But no exercise leaves most people a little tubby after a while. Take care!

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