I’ve been working later than normal, on account of the nonsense, and was driving home a few nights ago after 1:30 am. I was on Interstate 81, Satan’s Superhighway, when I saw what looked like a dozen police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, etc. on the opposite side of the interstate. I was traveling northbound, and all of the southbound lanes were closed. And there was an enormous amount of activity going on over there, as well as a traffic back-up that went on for miles. Huh, not good, I thought, and turned up the Whitesnake or whatever.
But the next morning Toney asked if I’d seen anything while driving home the previous night. She said there was a wrong-way driver that crashed head-on into a tractor trailer, and one person was dead. “I did!” I shouted. Then we wondered, as we always do, how there are so many people entering major highways traveling in the wrong direction. And I added, as usual, my confusion about how people can’t just get out of the way of an oncoming car. “I think there’s a steering wheel in most vehicles!” I said, “Why can’t they just maneuver around it?”
Later, I read this article about the crash and it gave me a full-body shiver. Personally witnessing the enormous aftermath of it made it more real, of course. It’s horrible. I felt a little guilty for not waiting a minute or two, at least, before I goosed the volume on the hair metal.
The very next day, on Friday, I worked until 1:30 am again. And while I was driving home that terrible crash popped into my mind a couple of times during the 35 minute journey. But I was tired and annoyed and listening to an episode of Suspense, the old radio show. So, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. It just bubbled up every once in a while, and disappeared again. But near the end of the trip, as I was approaching my exit, some truly scary shit happened. And the previous night’s tragic event was front and center again.
I was approaching Clarks Summit, where I exit the Prince of Darkness Expressway, and… a small white or silver car went careening past me in the left lane going the wrong way! It was hauling ass southbound in the northbound lanes. If I wasn’t near the exit I might’ve been in the left lane too, who knows? And the part that really scared me? I didn’t see it until it was RIGHT THERE. For years I’ve wondered about that, but now I know. That guy was on me before I realized what was going on. The floor of my ass nearly fell out.
I’m sure all the color drained out of my face, to the point where even Jack White might’ve said, “Dude, you look a little pale.”
I mean, what the hell?? What is going on out there? I’ve been driving for more than 40 years and had never experienced such a thing. I was about to call 911 when I saw two police cars heading that direction with lights flashing, so I was reasonably sure they were aware. By the way, how do they stop someone traveling in the wrong direction on an interstate highway? How does that work? Regardless, it was very scary. Both of us traveling at 65 or 70, heading straight at each other? I’m going to take some possible liberties and say that it’s not ideal.
When I got home I quickly downloaded a police scanner app and tuned into the Lackawanna County Sheriff feed, or whatever it is. And I didn’t hear anything about it, so I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t listening to the right thing?
Anyway, have you ever encountered something like that? I don’t recommend it. It’s the worst non-snow-or-ice-related thing I’ve witnessed on 81 since a guy a couple of car lengths ahead of me BLASTED a giant deer that seemed to just appear out of nowhere a couple of years ago. It looked like the car just went straight through it, and turned the animal into a blood mist. It all came raining down on my car, and the next morning there was blood and fur all over the front two-thirds of my Chevy Cruze. That was also a Jack White moment. Sweet sainted mother of Ross Grimsley!
If you have any similar tales to tell, please share in the comments. Yikes!
And I’ll see you guys again soon. If you’re hankering for more, I did upload a fresh episode of the podcast today too, if you’re so inclined.
Have a great day, my friends!
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Also – people using the emergency crossover thing on the Interstate. I’ve seen some cars almost get smashed due to that,
Never really seen a crash like you’re taking about. Spin outs, rear enders, minor stuff, but happily never seen anything like you’re talking about.
I have however stopped twice on the side of an interstate to help cars that have run off the road because the drivers couldn’t wait to get home before shooting up. Scary what addiction will drive people to do.
The last one the police had Narcan on them so we gave that. He woke up just before I put an airway in his nose. If he hadn’t woken up it would have been medically necessary.
Once the medics roll up I take off.
Your description of “dozens of police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks” reminds me of a couple of years ago, heading to the Toledo Express Airport on the Ohio Turnpike at 4:30 am for a very early flight. A cargo plane had overshot the runway and crashed into a truck repair shop that was just, and I mean JUST, on the other side of the guardrail. I checked the news when I got to the gate and learned the crash had occurred about an hour earlier. One hour earlier and 100 feet shorter and it could have been me getting the short end of that stick. The pilot and co-pilot died, but no one on the ground was hurt. I swear there were over 40 emergency vehicles on the site, and 500 watt klieg lights everywhere. The whole site was covered in that foamy extinguisher that I guess is specific to jet fuel fires, which made the scene even more eerie as that foamy stuff is bright white and it was reflecting into the stratosphere. Never seen anything like it, and would prefer not to again.
I have nothing so sphincter-clenching as that. About the best I can do is damaging my friend’s car.
Several Januaries ago, we were going out to (wild, wonderful(TM)) West Virginia to go skiing. It was my friend, his girlfriend and me, in his car. It was after midnight. I was driving because we had switched drivers at the halfway point. We were going along a very small, twisty state road through the woods. We came around a bend and there was a line of deer across the road. I hit the brake as hard as I dared, and pointed the car at a space between two deer. We heard a *thump* as we passed through the line. We debated going back, since a deer might be injured. But as my friend pointed out, “…and do what? Beat it to death with a ski pole?”
We checked the car over in the morning, and found a crack in one of the turn signal plastics.
Sue C says
Happy you are ok!
Years ago in NJ (mid-80s) Going with my fiancé (who was driving) to a concert at a college in North Jersey. Happened to look in the passenger side mirror and see a car behind us taking the exit we just passed. He might have been going way too fast. Watched the car flip over 3 or 4 times. At that point, we were at least a mile away, so too far to really help. And of course, no cell phone back then,
Joe T says
New Year’s morning 2016, about 5:45 am, on 81 by the airport exit! I was travelling north, on my way home from dealing cards at the casino, and like you…BAM… he’ right there coming in my direction! Your description of the feeling afterwards is spot on. It was tough to fall asleep when I got home.
No story, just grateful that you are OK!
Funny, I just passed an accident this morning but that could probably be described as a fender bender compared to what you saw. I’ve passed my fair share of ugliness on the highway. and it always gives me the heebie jeebies. I’m sure everyone thinks for a split second “That could have been me!”
A little off topic, but I need to ask: Jeff, how did you like the Rolling Stones? Do tell!
Wrong way on the interstate? I’m going to assume senility or too many adult beverages. You’d have to really try to do something that dumb.
Then there was Diane Schuler,, Drunk and murderous/suicidal
This is about an hour from where I live. This was a terribly shocking story.
Jeez. I don’t remember that. I’ll file that in the People Suck folder.
Librarian Mary says
I worked for the California Highway Patrol for a while and learned there that cops try not to drive in the fast lane at night. Now you know why.
If anyone wants to learn how to enter the freeway on the wrong side, watch Planes Trains and Automobiles. John Candy will show you how.
Stuart in Oz says
“You’re going the wrong way!!!”
“they must be drunk…how do they know where we’re going!”
I live in a rural area near Waco Texas and there are two divided highways running through this area. People are regularly pulling onto the wrong side of the highway and getting killed/killing others. We have a website for the community (there’s a cow out on..) and last year we had SEVENTEEN such incidents.
Son of Sam says
Heading to West Texas next week. Then drive down to San Antonio to the river walk
Have you been before? This is the perfect time to go to San Antonio. It’s not as balls-hot as usual.
Son of Sam says
Nope. First time. Staying in Waco a couple days then heading down. Leave tomorrow and we are pretty pumped to get to the River Walk.
My friend was driving back to Charleston after a visit to NC. She went to Tamarack, as usual, and while getting back onto to highway, she saw a car coming south in the northbound lanes. Luckily, she was able to get out of its way. I don’t remember if there were any crashes or deaths. That was over a dozen years ago.
The paid ad at the top of the comments features Donny (of Donny and Marie) singing and dancing badly at Harrah’s. Is there any way to change this to a cat food commercial or anti-diarrhea medication? At least the soundtrack would be more soothing. Thanks for your attention.
And it’s not fair to ask for more posts, then complain about posts, so I’m not doing that. Just saying that if I hit an armadillo with my 21-year-old car and total the car (best guess: armadillo will suffer less damage AND has a better attorney) in the next month I’m blaming Jeff. Not legally or morally, but spiritually. Two posts about ghastly wrecks in three months is asking for the Karma Police to come calling. Yes, he’s reporting actual events, and that’s just the way his life is going right now (thus: Donny Osmond), but there’s blood on the tracks and there’s a slow, slow train coming . . . up around the bend.
It might be the last train to Hicksville.
Chill, in a small coincidence, I’ve been selling off my CD collection on Ebay, and the last disc I listed was Original Recordings. I spent an hour or so two days ago doing the writeup. I’m pretty sure that I’ve not mentioned out here that I’m a Dan Hicks fan. The distance between conflated references to two 1970s Dylan albums to a freeway collision with two 1970s Dan Hicks albums isn’t beyond reason, but it feels a little spooky. As Tom Waits sang, about the same time (to Bette Midler), “You must be readin’ my mail.”
In a world that operates largely by chance, some coincidences are to be expected, but sometimes I scare myself When I let my thoughts run.
Rat Bastard says
A friend of mine got pulled over for driving on the wrong side of a divided highway, luckily he didn’t hit or kill anyone. He was shitfaced drunk, lost his license and his job too (required him to drive to repair sites.) That’s normally how these types of accidents happen, drunk drivers turn onto an off ramp, and that quickly, they are going the wrong way.
That reminds me of an incident that involved a Friend Of A Friend, whom I’ll call Tony. I’ve met Tony a few times.
When Tony got out of the navy, a bunch of his friends threw him a party. A good time was had by all, and at the end of the evening Tony got in his car to go home. Not too far into his journey, Tony was pulled over by a lady cop. He expected the usual request for his license and registration, but instead the officer approached with her gun drawn.
Cop: You’re driving on the wrong side, you’re speeding and you’re drunk!
Tony (confused, innocently): Am I going to jail?
Cop: Oh yes.
The Yodler says
Tonight turned out to be a good night after all.
We were in Romania on a major highway coming our of Bucharest, in the middle of three lanes, when an ambulance came screaming full speed with lights flashing down the fast lane, IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. It scared the shit out of us, but all we could do was look at each other and say “Did that shit really happen??!!!” and “Is that normal for Romania?”. There are some crazy drivers over there, but that definitely took the cake!
I’m beginning to think the best bet in all of gambling is single deck Blackjack, perhaps followed closely by Craps. To be fair, I always thought that — since, even in the most generous state games, the state keeps 40% (I mean they spend 40% on programs for the people . . . almost choked up there). I do understand that this is a “fucks in Deadwood” thing, and is done primarily to entertain the troops and emperil Jeff’s marriage, and I’m for one of those things.
Jesus, when I visit this historic site, I’m down to reading the lottery report. God is dead.
“Historic site” – a good description. Je me souviens, ‘n’ shit.
Well, I don’t speak German on moral and historical grounds, but I’m sure you’re saying something nice. All those wonderful European languages to choose from, and I took Jamaican. Damn you, Marley.
Get wit de Patois: Mi nuh undastan.