Friday, March 28, 2008

Too much excitement

We are at the Sierra Vista Elks lodge (map), visiting friends.

We finally left Beaudry yesterday at nearly 3pm. We had been waiting for the representative from the laundry vendor, who was going to look at the damage and was supposed to show up at 1:30. Apparently, when he rolled by at 1:45, some random stranger told him we were not home, and he left. I think he really just did not want to deal with me. In any case, talking to him on the phone later he basically told us they were not responsible for the damage -- so why, then, did we need to wait around for him to come look?

Beaudry did the right thing, though, and knocked half off our stay when we checked out. Not full compensation, but good enough, especially considering the damage was probably due to some crud left in there by a previous user. But we got a late start toward Sierra Vista due to the no-show laundry guy.

That put us on the I-10 freeway just in time to be 1,000' behind this big rig when it flipped over onto it's side:

The speed limit here is 75, and he was doing close to that when he either fell asleep or blacked out, left the roadway into the median, and over-corrected when he woke up. As is our custom, we were doing 60 in the slow lane when we first saw the enormous cloud of dust as the trailer wheels skidded sideways down the median.

I immediately put the four-ways on, and started pumping the brakes to make the brake lights flash. We moved Odyssey into the #1 lane to block traffic from the scene -- the photo above is taken from the upstairs window well after the response was wrapped up. Smoke was billowing from the rig, so I jumped out with the 2-gallon Cold-Fire unit while Louise phoned it in to 911. Even though we saw at least three other people on cell phones when we stopped, hers was the first call.

By the time I got to the tractor, a bunch of guys in military camo fatigues were already ripping out the windshield to get to the drivers. In hindsight, I should have jumped in to help direct them, because they ended up pulling one of the victims out who had suffered a C-spine injury. My call would have been to leave the victim, who was breathing, in place until the pros arrived with the backboards and cervical collars. I'm guessing, though, that the smoke convinced them that fire was imminent.

In fact, the smoke was coming from the trailer's refrigeration unit, which was still running. On its side, it was alternately getting too much, then too little fuel, and it oscillated between revving to the point of self-destruction, and nearly dying from starvation. When it over-revved, a huge cloud of white smoke would billow out. I was able to get between the cab and trailer and underneath the unit to its control panel, and shut it down.

Meanwhile, Louise had grabbed our extensive first aid kit and headed over to where they had dragged the victims -- oddly, on the opposite side of the westbound lanes (the accident was on the eastbound side). An ex-EMT had already stopped to help, so we just provided the supplies. I donned my neon-yellow vest and started directing traffic, trying to clear the huge backup (the eastbound side had stopped completely) so the emergency vehicles could make it to the scene.

Between assisting at the scene, collecting our emergency items afterwards (the fire extinguisher and first aid kit), and filling out the witness statements, we were there for about an hour. When we finally did leave, threading our way through the emergency crews (we wanted to get out before the wrecker came in and blocked the roadway completely), we had the freeway all to ourselves for several miles, as the highway patrol had, of course, shut it down one exit ahead of the scene.

All's well that ends well -- no other vehicles were involved, and both drivers were alive and mostly OK when they were transported to the hospital. No word on whether the load of refrigerated produce survived...

We made it here just in time for a nice dinner with our friends in town. The sore throat I developed from inhaling the acrid diesel exhaust as I shut down the reefer unit is gone this morning, and we're looking forward to a much less exciting day today.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading your blog for a week now, since discovering via Neil and Cali over at

    It's people like you, who jump into action when help is needed, who really make this world go round.

    I salute you.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!