There was a wreck tonight on the Interstate, a mile from where we’re working, and there for the grace of pure blind luck the accident happened a mile away and not directly on top of me. Witnesses on the scene said they had called 911 way down the road trying to get someone, anyone, to stop the truck driver who was weaving all over the road. Finally, he rammed another truck and wound up wearing the other truck’s trailer in his lap.
I got there moments after the wreck, and before the first ambulance. The driver of the truck that had been rammed was walking around and fine, but the guy driving the truck who was doing the weaving and the ramming was quite a few things, but fine was not on the list. Part of his truck’s engine and parts of his transmission were scattered out all over the road, and I am here to tell you; to gut a truck you have to hit something hard.
The truck that was hit was nearly empty which made things worse for the guy who hit it. The empty truck jumped when it was hit, and rode up, and into the cab of the ramming truck. The driver was pushed backwards into his sleeper, and mashed up pretty bad. I arrived about eight-thirty and it was nearly ten before they got him cut out of the truck.
Having a steering wheel jammed into your chest, and having a truck cab compressed into your body, isn’t conducive to being able to walk away from a wreck. I couldn’t tell very much about how he was hurt, but I could see he was still looking around and not seeing anything at all. His eyes rolled back in his head a few times, and the paramedics who were trying to pry the truck apart to get to him were having one hell of a time.
In the middle of this, we have the Sheriff’s department out there closing off the Interstate, we have the firemen out there making sure all the spilt fuel doesn’t catch on fire, we have the road crew putting out sand to absorb the different fluids pouring out of the truck, suddenly some moron heading north stops his car on the Interstate to take a photo with his cell phone. Law enforcement reacts immediately, negatively, and as the guy jumps into his car and speeds off I hear a deputy barking into his radio.
I have some issues with Wreck Tourists who feel like they have to stop and stare. Keep moving folks, keep your eyes on the road, and show a little respect for the injured or dying. Stopping in the middle of the Intestate to take pictures of someone being cut out of a truck in the other lane may seem like a good idea, but not so much with the deputy at the next exit stops you and plays “What can I give you a ticket for today?” Worse, by gawking at the dead, dying, or bleeding, you’re risking ramming whoever is in front of you, and they, if they’re also morons, risk hitting someone else, too.
No matter who caused the accident, how the accident was caused, or anything else, no one goes anywhere until we get this guy in an ambulance. This is the way it must be. You being an hour, or two hours, or three hours late is not as important as having the life saved. Become one with that idea because the men with the guns and radios are. We road people will open the road when the men with the radios and guns tell us to open the road, and they take their instructions from the people who are patching together what was once a person in one piece. He isn’t now. There is blood on the outside of his body that was once on the inside and that is never good.
If you want to know one of the aftereffects of a wreck then try soaking yourself in diesel for a couple of hours. The ruptured fuel tank sprayed the man with fuel and it was a couple of hours before they got him out, laid him down, and were able to hose it off of him. They had three of four people hold a sheet out in front of him to preserve what dignity they could because yes, people will stop and stare.
Once the ambulance leaves the clean-up begins, and the guys running the wreckers have to figure out how to untangle the trucks. The firemen stand ready to put out a fire if it starts, but I get the feeling the worse is over. I talk to the other driver, and he wants me to talk to his boss about what happened, and I am more than happy to do so. This man got rear ended, and so far he isn’t angry or being a jerk about it. He’s concerned about what has happened to the other driver, and his boss wants to know if anyone saw what happened. I give him the name of the witness who said he called in on the guy, and I tell him his driver has conducted himself well. I write down tag numbers and names and telephone numbers as well.
I’m home now. I’m safe. I have fed the mutts, petted them on dog’s heads, and I am very tired right now. Somewhere there is someone in a hotel room, glad the accident was any worse, and somewhere there is someone in a hospital room, and for him, it really could have been much worse. A mile down the road or so, where we were working, the truck with a drunk, drugged, sleepy, or crazed driver would have cut through us as if we were not there at all. My work truck is small. They would still be cutting me out of it.
Does that cover the drinking and driving thing?