Saturday, May 8, 2010

I-40 Accident Friday

I was on my way to my mom's house Friday afternoon when I drove (eastbound on I-40) up to an accident scene in Conway before the emergency vehicles showed up. I watched the ambulance try to fight its way through stopped traffic on the westbound lanes as I was pulling away from the scene.

At first, I noticed traffic suddenly slowing as a few people were huddling around an SUV, which was overturned in the median. As I was inching forward, several others swarmed the SUV to check on the driver. Before too long, they had the driver out of the vehicle and on the ground. I did not rubberneck/gawk, but I did see the driver was completely surrounded by people. When I was even with the SUV on the eastbound lane, I saw something I had never seen before...the engine was on the shoulder of the road, almost even with the SUV. Then, I drove through about 50ft of debris, feeling shattered fragments of the SUV bouncing off of my car's undercarriage. The front bumper had been pushed onto the shoulder about halfway through. The good civilians were attempting to clear the road, but there were too many pieces. I started on the inside lane, but soon moved to the outside lane as everyone else was doing. When I passed the debris field, I was about a quarter of a mile from my exit for Vilonia/Beebe, if anyone knows where that is (for an estimation of location).

According to this CNN iReport, both sides of the interstate were shut down for the next two hours. As far as I can tell, no information (other than the iReport), has been made public...but I could be wrong. The picture in the iReport was taken from the side of the eastbound lanes because it is the same view I had, and emergency vehicles were approaching via the westbound lanes. The iReport says the engine ended up half a mile back...this is incorrect--I know because I saw it. At first, I did not know what it was. Then, I saw the pulley system. As my car was even with the SUV, the engine might have been another seven feet or so in front of me.

Also, since I passed the SUV prior to debris, I could only assume the SUV was travelling west, crossed the median, then rolled into oncoming traffic. I do not know exactly what time it happened, but cars that had passed me minutes before were pulled on the side of the road to help. I saw a yellow semi pulled over past the debris, but it did not appear as though it was involved. I did not take any pictures for obvious reasons.

Also...less than five miles back from the accident scene, I saw a state trooper burying his Dodge Charger in the woods to set up to catch speeders. Where the hell was he when it counted? The whole ten minutes I was stuck in traffic, I did not see that officer. I know his car is capable of off-road travel (we have all seen cops in strange spots along the interstate, I am sure). That thoroughly disgusted me. There was no reason he could not have driven down the road to help. He was already out of the traffic, so he had no excuse. Also disheartening was seeing the ambulance stuck in traffic. People can be void of common sense. If you see an ambulance, get the hell out of the way (even if you have to pull off of the road to do so). The life possibly hanging in the balance is far more important than your tires. It was frustrating and disillusioning to see. Yet the amount of people helping was incredible. There was no reason for me to stop, so I did not. There was nothing I could have done that the other 30 people already there had not already done.

On a bright note, I am through with this semester.

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