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Wade Heath My near-death episode much scarier than Halloween

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Wade Heath

Posted: Monday, October 30, 2006 10:00 pm

Driving south on I-5 in my friend's near-new Dodge Neon two weeks ago, traffic had come to a slow crawl.

At four miles per hour, all three lanes were jammed with a wide assortment of vehicles all inching their way down the tar. As my friend and I sat in the Dodge, conversation had, much like the traffic, come to a stand still. By this point, my friend had been driving for a little over three-and-a-half hours.

Sitting in the passenger seat, I looked out my window at the left two lanes.

My friend suddenly screamed out as he was staring at his rear view mirror. "What?" I asked, quickly darting my head down at my side door mirror.

What I saw will live in my mind forever.

Straight out of a scene from an action movie, I observed a semi-trailer hurtling through the air at the rear of our vehicle. I was speechless.

"BOOM!" The trailer had not slammed into the side of our car, but gripped the semi in the lane next to us, forcing its trailer to swing left, colliding with our vehicle and crunching the entire passenger side, which I was on.

The sounds were that of brakes, above me and behind me. Screams, trailer axles rubbing, metal clashing with metal, debris flying past my window.

Then it happened. The semi next to us, which had already been forced into my passenger side, looked as if it were about to collapse - on me.

I nearly leaped out of my seat belt into the driver's seat. My friend hit the gas, but to no avail. The trailer on the passenger side smacked us so hard it threw us into the dry grass and gravel median.

I looked to my right and saw the cab of another semi sliding to a stop. It didn't have wheels under it.

I looked ahead and saw a Cadillac sedan full of elderly women. Their expressions could never be recreated. They were stuck, their doors sealed shut by the impact of another semi.

To my left, I observed a large SUV with a woman nearly falling out of the passenger side, shaking in shock and terrified.

I then turn my head within the vehicle and saw my friend and driver, his eyes as big as I'd ever seen. And then, things were quiet. Silent like the dark of night. I quickly thought to myself, am I dead?

My friend and I looked at each other and knew we had to get out of the car and help others. Without talking, both of us went to get out of the car.

My friend had no issue. I couldn't get out. My door was stuck. After forcing all of my body weight against it, I was able to force it open.

Falling onto the pavement, I got my first sight of the carnage.

Whole semi trucks were twisted. Vehicles were totaled, debris was everywhere, and the air was damp.

"GAS!" a civilian driver yelled out.

I looked down and found gasoline pouring all across the interstate.

The driver of the semi that was forced into us came running toward me. "Chief, are you all right?" he asked.

"I uh, I'm fine, I think," I responded.

Incredible. I really was all right.

No, I was just fine. I should have been dead. No doubt about it.

Seeing I was fine, I then began helping other drivers and people who needed assistance.

Finally, my friend met with me. "Are you all right, dude?" he asked.

"I'm fine. Are you okay?" I asked him. "Yeah. Wow." he responded.

He said "wow" because he knew he should have been dead, too.

"God was with us! Oh Lord, Jesus, he was with us. Praise be!" one of the elderly women said to me when I asked if everyone in her car was all right.

Everyone affected by the accident was thankful. Many were involved, one sustained a bloody arm.

Once word spread that everyone was fine, the blame game began.

Who did what, who has to pay, who was going to get sued for this?

Thankful to be alive, I walked away from the beginning of what was soon to be a blame fight.

I stepped onto the shut-down shoulder and approached a semi driver. He stood there, shaking, looking at the twisted cab that he, just moments prior, was piloting.

"Well, I guess that's it. I'm fired," he said. "What?" I asked him.

"Yeah. I reached down to get my lighter. I looked up and everyone was stopped. I tried to hit the brakes, but it didn't work. The trailer jackknifed and then … ." the man sadly explained.

I've always heard real life is scarier than fiction.

Was this scary enough for you? Happy Halloween.

Wade Heath is a college student and editor of He can be reached at:

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