WDMS - Chapter 296 - November 2021
MAYTAG'S FINAL RUN
Feet flat on the floor, cruise control set at 65mph (70 zone) and a nice 80's station playing on the radio. I just loaded the trailer two hours ago and I'm headed home. It's about 2am, but I'm wide awake and have a cold water to drink and gummy bears to snack on to get me a few hours then I'll stop. I'm in rural Illinois. Its cold.
I go up a gentle hill and as it starts to crest it bends a bit to the left as it goes over a bridge. The back end steps out quickly to the right on the unseeable ice as the cruise control encourages it. I can't get my feet to the pedals fast enough, or the cruise switched off in enough time and I finish crossing the bridge at a serious crab angle, nose pointing left. As I hit non-ice pavement, the rear bites and throws the truck in a rotation to the right and I'm almost backwards as I go off the road, instantly realizing everything went silent as I went over the edge.
The silence got my full attention. The truck was now rolling to the left (driver door down) and I was in the air, but falling. How far was this embankment? Was there a river down below? The water would be damn cold. Then, as the truck finally made contact again, the noise was violent ("I bet the leading edge of a tornado sounds like this", I pondered) and all encompassing as I hit, rolled again completely clearing the fence and landed in a plowed field, the noise finally abating. Thankfully, I was wheels down, seat belt still on. And awake.
I never lost consciousness and I can recall it all. The driver door stuck a bit, but I was able to get it open. I put my foot on solid ground and realized I could not see. Sure it was dark, but my eyes were reporting nothing to my brain. I waived my hands in front of my face. Nothing. Relax, heart rate is up...take a few deep breaths and get that back under control and lean against the seat. I can barely smell gas, but it is faint. Close my eyes...relax...heart rate coming down nicely...ease the eyes open and I can sorta-kinda see directly in front of me. Survey a bit...no fire, a hell of a mess...and an 18-wheeler stopped on the highway and the driver has walked down the hill and is coming up to me.
"You okay?". "Yeah, I'm....I'm okay....I'm good.....but call an ambulance". He heads back towards his truck. I look for the my phone that was on the center console before all this. Interior lights still work and I find it on the back seat. My backpack was in the passenger seat but it's gone. All four windows, plus the windshield and the back glass are gone. The cab is really flattened. I go over the seat to get my phone. Try to call Anna. Won't connect. Damn. Try again. Nope. I text instead. "I'm okay, but I rolled the truck" - "But I'm okay". Sent.
I don't want to go into shock, so it is time to get busy. Start collecting as much of this yard sale and putting it in the bed of the truck. It's cold, so I put on the gloves I had and get to work. Found the backpack, still zipped up. Whew. Found my gearbag, but it was open, so most of the stuff is spread down the hill. Dangit.
Ambulance shows. "Is anyone in the truck?" "No, it was just me" "You were IN that truck?!?!?!?" "Yeah" "Come up the hill and let's check you out".
Cops show, more EMS folks too. Everyone is pretty amazed I not only survived the fall/roll but that I walked back up the hill on my own. I kinda thought they were over exaggerating it a bit. When I went back the next day, I understood they were completely serious. Pictures don't do it justice, but oh well. Anna called and I gave the phone to the ambulance guys. They told her I was hilarious and seemed in good shape overall. She told them to not take any of my crap and if they thought I needed a collar, then put it on and ignore me. LOL. Yes, I got a collar.
On the far right is the windshield. The bank does not look as steep in this picture though...
Spent about 7 hours in the ER. They did some scans, stapled my head back closed (4 staples...not even a topical...only hurts for a few seconds), stitched my left hand up (11 stitches over 3 tears), immobilized my right wrist (broken radius, but can't cast until the swelling goes down in a few days) and seemed surprised I turned down pain killers. I did take the anti-biotic prescription though...infection me no likey. Collar came off when the head and neck scans showed only soft tissue damage. Again passed on pain killers.
The trailer rolled though the fence and stopped, but the truck kept going almost to the windshield on the far right. #Distance
I'd been in the ER about 3 hours and a heart-attack patient came in. I was no longer the star of the ward, and I got dimmed lights and a blanket. The doc and my main nurse were absolutely star quality and they had talked to Anna a good bit as well. I was finally all alone and it was quiet and I was blessedly warm and almost kinda sorta comfortable (if I held still in the right position, it was only mild pain)...and I cried. Like a little girl I quietly cried for a minute or so and then gathered it back up. I'm safe. I'll get home to my family. It wasn't my time. Thank God (which I did...a lot).
Hotel shuttle came and got me and I got checked in and slept a bit. Woke up, shuttle to the pharmacy for the antibiotic RX and some basic snacks, and walked the .25 mile back to the hotel just for the exercise. It was chilly but not horrible. Warm shower to get clean-ish (right arm wrapped in plastic, left hand in a bag, LOL) and ate the delivered pizza and absolutely slept hard. Anna was working on the network to get me home and Corey made it happen the next day. Picked Anna and Athena up and headed north. While they flew, I got a ride to the airport, grabbed a rental and headed an hour north to the impound lot.
Second set of tears. Looking at the truck. Damn. It looked WAY worse then it did before now that it is in daylight. Damn. Protected me but died in the process. As designed. Driver door was functional with a lot of effort but the other three doors were not budging. Got the small stuff and lots of pictures but could not find my watch or my keys. Ug. Headed back south. Stopped at the accident site and it was still a mess. I was there almost an hour and found my watch (band was in 4 pieces, watch itself was further than the truck landed!), my keys and a few other items I wanted. Whew. Mess was strewn several hundred yards...down the hill, over the fence, etc.
Corey bringing the fam to me, and us loading in the cold to bring me home. Much happiness.
Headed back to Bloomington and got to the airport just a few minutes before Corey and the girls landed in his P210. We sat a bit and ate pizza and then loaded up to head south. I sat in back with Athena, feeling incredibly blessed to be with my family at this point. Corey got us home and I was actually feeling pretty good about the whole thing. The next day assess/repair began with 10 days full of appts to fix my tooth, get rehab going at my awesome chiro office (Renner), get the right arm in a short cast, have my NP check the stitches, have my bloody eye and vision double checked, etc. It was the vision I was most worried about because the eye looked HORRIBLE. I can deal with some arm issues and figure out a way to still race, but if my eye is wonky then I've got problems. Thankfully (again) all was fine. Overall prognosis is full recovery with zero long term issues. Sidenote: if you want to see bloody hand and stapled head and bloody eye pics, text me....I wasn't comfy posting those because some of ya'll are squeamish. Heh.
Above: 255knots! We saw 260 but I didn't get a snap. Below: Just above minimums...
Backstory: A while back I found a guy selling an old Dillon chassis and some 4th gen Camaro (Scratcher style) bodywork. The issue was it was in Illinois but he was happy to hold it for a while and I got a very VERY good deal on it all. Doing research on the chassis, it actually ran IMSA "back in the day" and is historic eligible for sure. The body will fit Scratcher and I'm thinking of doing a Baldwin 'Hot Wheels' livery...which was always one of my top TA liveries. So the day after Thanksgiving I head north with MFW's trailer to gather it all up. It goes super easy and a few hours into the return trip is when I find the iced-bridge and the evil happens.
13 days post-roll, I'm sliding into another aircraft to head north. This time Fertitta is going as well, and this time it's a Cirrus with Richard piloting. Richard was my bonzai co-driver to bring Anna's Christmas pcar back from Canada (fun story here: http://www.witchdoctormotorsports.com/ch235.htm) but I'd never flown with him piloting (like Corey and Rob, he's got a *lot* of flight time). We launch into decent weather with an insane tailwind. We get a few bumps, but for a 50+knot tailwind, we will gladly suffer. We get into the Illinois airport juuuust above minimums with it raining and goofy wind and he absolutely greases the landing. I look over to see a faint grin on Richard's face as he knows that was one slick landing. The only bad part is he's got to turn around and fly back into it and it'll crush his speed on the return trip. Sorry Richard!
Fertitta and I grab a boxvan and a carhauler and then a hotel for the night and then we're at the yard when it opens at 7a. Before noon we're rolling home with all the bodywork in the truck and the roller on the trailer! The yard guys were great, they moved the trailer and used a 4wd forklift to snatch out the roller and simply pick it up and put in on the trailer. I made sure to pay those guys for a nice hot lunch when we left. They were busy that day, the wind was huge and they brought in two 18-wheelers that had blown over as well as a small cargo trailer that flipped as well. We didn't know it at the time, but a huge windstorm was hitting the 5 state area and lots of tornadoes and wind damage was done.
To-be-named car ended up halfway up the side of the trailer.
A blown-over 18-wheeler that day and our little box truck getting loaded.
We took it easy going south, stopping to grab a pic of the wreck site (Fertitta: "yeah, the pictures don't do it justice") and then knocking down the states to Texas and finally home to unload. I have some repair work to do on some of the bodywork, but I'll get it done. Thankfully the roller was not damaged at all, but I didn't expect it to be. #TubeFrameStrongLikeBull
Yeah, it was a bit messy, but it ended up WAY better than it could have.
Once home, Fertitta and I start the unload and MFW comes and helps and also collects some of his stuff too. Huge help with those two!!
All in all, not a fun experience but a blessed one for sure. The network quickly pulled together to enact the rescue and recovery and I'm so freaking blessed to have it. As most of you know, I drive a lot. I've driven in all the lower 48 as well as Hawaii (only need Alaska to be complete!) and done my share of mountain and cold driving. If I even *think* there could be ice I don't use the cruise control. Never have. Coming south the forecast was above freezing and no precip...but apparently it had rained a bit and on the bridge it iced. Ug. Stay safe out there kiddos!!!
Maytag was a great truck and she will be missed.