Sunday, August 12, 2007

Major Accident---Not For The Squeemish

I have no pictures to share of what happened a few days ago...and am glad of it, for the images were not pleasant, and will be burned in my little kitty brain for months to come.

But on the morning of the 9th after Matt and I left the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, rolling westbound, we came upon stopped traffic. It was a line of vehicles stretching only about 1 mile at the time, but would stretch from the 233 mile post back to the previous exit before we were allowed to proceed.

Matt turned on his CB radio to get information on the delay, and together we listened as the news came in piecemeal about the horrible accident that occurred less than 10 minutes prior. Seems that a Trans Am with two young females (found out later this was wrong, it was two older women and a 2yr old) had been traveling at high speeds eastbound and passing everyone in sight. Then something happened-- no one knows what, and the women crossed over the median and crashed into oncoming westbound traffic hitting two cars, a van, and a six wheel truck. There were several fatalities (again, only 3 reported so far by news accounts--never trust C.B. chatter!), including an entire family (with baby) whose remains had to be pried out of their mangled vehicle (again, not true by news accounts--the baby was the 2yr old in the Trans Am who was flown to the hospital).

There we sat on the highway...watching ambulances, fire trucks, state troopers, flatbed tow trucks, and then a coroner's wagon pass us on the right shoulder. Even a rescue helicopter paid the scene a visit, so not everyone involved had died at the scene, hopefully.

We sat for only an hour and a half, as the rescue workers have had much practice in their vocations, before we were finally allowed to drive through. And when we did we all moved slowly by on the right shoulder, some slower than others, as each driver had to see what delayed their travels.

Matt glanced only briefly, as he has seen many of these in twelve years of professional driving, but I had to look. Most of the vehicles had been removed along with most of the bodies, probably taken to Iowa City. There were two left: the remains of the Trans Am scattered all over the place and the car it first broad-sided. Two men were standing in front holding a blanket to obstruct the view from passers-by, while two others were prying out the remains of whomever was left in the car. One body off to the left was wrapped from head to toe in a shiny gray blanket and strapped to a stretcher in full view of everyone. Perhaps on purpose?

The looks on the faces of the rescue workers and state troopers were both angry and grim, so Matt wasted no time in getting by them...until the car in front of us came to a full stop to gawk at the carnage. With a pull on the cord, Matt blew the big truck horn and the line of traffic once again proceeded.

You can never be too vigilant out on the highways these days as lives can be snuffed out in a blink of an eye. And I'm sure that the accident we saw made an impression on many of those who waited and viewed. But to some, of course, it didn't. In fact, there were several who passed us at high speeds afterwards who were trying to make up for lost time. And so it goes...

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