Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Main branch is in downtown Phoenix, our yard is in Chandler.
I was on I-10, just about to hit the Salt River bridge - at the time of day
it was - a bit past 4:00pm, I always pull back. The bridge seems to be the starting point of a huge slowdown that turns into stop and go traffic.
There is a sea of traffic in front of me, I'm just trying to keep a good distance between me and whatever is in front of me. There is a box truck up ahead, 2 lanes over. I'm not watching it in particular, it's just there. It is a large, 6 wheel truck that has a box on it that is as tall as a semi trailer and about - 30 foot long truck anyway. I am always watching as far ahead as possible, looking for brake lights - and I saw a bunch of them going on all at once.
The next thing I know, this box truck is slamming on it's brakes, slides sideways and then rams head first into the center median wall. The truck was probably going about 70mph. It head dead center of where a 40 or so foot tall light pole was planted in the middle of that cement median wall. The impact of the truck was so great, the entire cab of the truck flew off of the truck and OVER the median wall, into traffic coming from the other direction. It landed in the HOV lane and THEN, the light pole came down ON TOP of the cab!
It was surreal. I saw smoke coming from the engine, which was the ONLY thing left on the front portion of that truck, I immediately pulled over in the center emergency lane, just ahead of the now over-turned truck, got my fire extinguisher and ran up to the truck, looking at the cab of that truck on the other side of the wall, wondering if anyone was alive. Well, there was no fire so I didn't use the extinguisher. All kinds of people had already stopped on the other side of the wall including a police officer in an unmarked car who was sitting there talking to one occupants of the cab. So, at least they weren't dead.
Well, I did see a hand on the driver's side of the cab and a leg and neither were moving, it was the person on the other side of the cab that was talking - I have no clue what the injuries were on it. If you look at the pic, you can see the overturned truck and just beyond it you can see my semi parked on the shoulder.
Well, crazy stuff. I didn't stick around too long because I didn't witness what happened. I only see the truck crash, not what CAUSED the truck to crash. However, the dude I was talking with had the whole story down pat. A car was following another car too closely. The car being followed had to hit his brakes hard and the dude in the car behind didn't react in time, smashed into another car beside him, started sliding sideways and in front of the truck, which slammed on it's brakes. The rest I saw with my own eyes.
However, while I'm talking with the guy, we are looking at the engine on this truck which turned from smoldering to a full fledged fire and hence my fire extinguisher came into use - one of those smothering, chemical types of extinguishers that put that fire out. The fire department hadn't arrived and after 10 minutes of standing there still hadn't arrived. Which I thought strange.
The rest is history. The entire freeway was shut down which basically threw the entire valley into a traveling nightmare. Once you shut down a major interstate, all bets are off. Everyone is flooding surface streets trying to get past it. It is 9:00 pm right now, 5 hours later and the residual effect of that accident and shutting down the entire freeway is STILL wreaking havoc out there.
But, I went to church anyway. Took some side streets and avoided most of the bad traffic and got there and back. But, it IS 9:00 pm and that's half an hour past my bedtime!