This is an example of a jacknifed trailer.
Yeah, well it seems like I have this...pun intended....fatal attraction with semi trucks. See, back in 2004-5 my brother and I were on I-40 westbound headed toward Nashville, TN. We were going to pick up some off-road tires for his Tacoma. We were about 30 minutes into our trip when along came this dumping rain. I mean it just came down in buckets. This went on for a good 10 minutes and then it eased back up into a faint drizzle in no time at all.
We were traveling in the left lane of a two lane section of the highway with a minivan just to our right rear.....when we crested the hill. On the other side of the hill, as our eyes focused on a car smashed up against the left hand lane’s concrete wall and sitting about two thirds of the way into our line of travel, we realized we had no place to go! The minivan to our right saw the same issue at hand and, like we had walkie-talkies, pulled into their breakdown lane at the same time my brother pulled us into their lane. It was like a ballet of driving.
That’s not the fun part yet. That just got our juices flowing. My brother said he saw that there were people getting out of the car as we went cruising by and so we decided to park on the right side of the road just past the guard rail and direct traffic. As we pulled over and came to a skidding stop with the help of the e-brake we jumped out and began running back up the road. My brother crossed over to the middle of the two lanes of highway and ran up along the concrete barrier to assist the people in the car. He was yelling to them to get over the barrier as fast as they could. They were all just milling about behind the wrecked car, stunned. I, on the other hand, ran up the right side of the highway along the guard rail as fast as I could waving my hands and trying to make as big a motion to the group of 15-20 cars, trucks and the lone semi in the lane closest to me cresting the hill at 65 miles an hour. As some of the cars passed me I could see the eyes of the people in them looking at me with this look of, “What the hell is he doing on the side of the road?” and then shifting their eyes to the car wreck about 150 yards in front of them. I think I actually could feel the oxygen depleting from their cars as they all sucked a full breathe of air through their teeth and searched for the right words to say as they came upon the wrecked car sitting in the left lane. At this point about two thirds of the cars had passed me, some had maneuvered like we did with the minivan, some had applied too much brake and started to skid out of control, others tried to avoid the other skidding cars and some just happened to find their way through somehow...It reminded me of a mass wreck in the Daytona 500. In the rear of the pack was the semi though, who tried as best he could to stop without applying too much brake but it was not to be. He finally locked her up and the trailer started to jack-knife around towards me and the guard rail. It came so fast! I did all I could do to see it coming and jump as far as I could over the metal guard rail to my left. I dove and in mid-air pulled my legs up into my chest. At that moment, the trailer’s tires hit the guard rail, bumping it back about 3 feet as it slid along making a horrible rubber / metal smashing sound. The trailer itself is about 8-10’ longer than the rear wheels that were crushing the guard rail and it was THAT part of the trailer that came within inches of taking my legs off had I not brought them up! Seconds after it went by I could hear my brother yell out my name, “Justinnnnnnnn!” He was convinced that I didn’t make it. I rolled and rolled and when I came up I noticed that the semi had finally come to a complete stop. It had rear ended a few cars and the diesel tank under the driver was punctured by a piece of metal from one of the cars it had hit.
Oh by the way, the car that was lodged up against the concrete barrier, along with the people in the wreck, never did get hit by any of the oncoming traffic! There were multiple cars that were mangled, but not a scratch on anyone. Unbelievable! The state police showed up a few minutes later along with the fire department and ambulances. We gave our story to them and hopped back in our truck to finish the trip. Tyler looked over at me and said, “I thought I had lost you!” and the only thing I could say back to him was, “I thought I was gone too.” For the next 10 minutes we just sat there replaying the events in our heads in complete silence. Then, in the most silent of silent moments, my brother goes, “Dude, that was so awesome!” and I yelled back, “You bet your a** it was!” and we enjoyed telling what our points of view of the accident were all the way to our destination.
Kids...Here is your lesson: Keep a safe 4-5 second distance while driving and make sure you wear your kangaroo shoes because you never know when you’re gonna need them!
As I read this, I remembered when it took place but seeing it again just makes me sigh with relief that your life was spared. Your Guardian Angel was helping to get those legs of yours pulled up tight! I can't imagine the adrenalin that was flowing through your bodies as you decided to stop and warn and help the traffic behind you and the people getting out of the disabled car. I am proud that you would risk your lives to do this and live to tell others. Love these Legacy Pearls, Mom