girlfriend, Kim, and her younger sister, Judy, up the coast to a popular
bed and breakfast; he’d been driving for hours.
Two of the big rigs were
loaded to capacity, two were empty and heading home but stuck behind a
Dodge Caravan trapped behind a ‘68 VW bus driving wide open at
fifty-eight miles an hour. The driver of the silver SUV glanced in his
rear view mirror as the BMW rode up to within a couple of feet of his
“Would you look at that, Marge?” George Shepherd turned to his wife. “We’re being tailgated.”
Marge kept crocheting as she
turned in her seat to have a look at the BMW. “Just tap your brakes,
then when he backs off, slow down, that’ll teach him.” Marge turned her
huge bulk around, unbuckling her seat belt in order to reach the skein
of yarn that had tangled at her feet.
As the VW neared the crest of the hill, the driver had to down shift, dropping his speed to forty-five.
At first, it seemed
that Marge’s advice had worked; as soon as George tapped his brakes, the
BMW dropped back several car lengths.
When Brad Meyers, the driver
of the BMW, glanced into his rear view mirror, he was shocked. There was
a Chevy Nova so close that he couldn’t see the hood.
The Dodge Caravan in
the right lane saw George slow his SUV and took the opportunity to cut
in front just as the big rig immediately behind him spotted the same
opening. Unfortunately, he did not notice the Caravan’s lane change and
accelerated toward the space. The Dodge swerved back into the slow lane
leaving the space for the semi.
Brad stomped on the gas just as George hit the brakes of his SUV, slowing from seventy down to fifty-five.
When Brad shifted his vision
from the rear view mirror to the windshield, he hit the brakes,
simultaneously cranking the wheel of the BMW hard to the left to avoid
colliding with the SUV.
“Oh shit!” Brad shouted
The angle Brad intended
to put him just left of the huge SUV was drastically altered when the
Chevy Nova, following Brad’s deceleration, was too close to avoid
slamming into the rear end of the BMW, pushing it to right angles with
the SUV and into a roll.
George instinctively hit the
gas of his SUV when he saw the BMW roll, sending the big vehicle surging
forward, filling the space it had just created, that was about to be
filled by the eighteen-wheeler.
The truck driver saw the
space vanish. With his forward momentum working against him, he braced
for collision, sounding his air horn seconds before he rammed the SUV
just forward of the rear wheel, tossing the sport utility vehicle onto
The black BMW and the silver SUV looked like a pair of dice as they rolled, one in front of the other, at nearly fifty mph.
Just as the Chevy Nova
slowed, the big rig’s trailer began to slide around until it shimmied
and skidded into the Nova’s rear with such force that the Chevy was
launched into the tumbling BMW. Dan’s girlfriend and sister lay curled
up on the back seat of the Chevy Nova, spooning, nestled against the
padded back, seat belts long forgotten and pushed out of the way, sound
When the careening big rig’s
trailer slammed the Chevy, the two girls were pressed into the deeply
padded backrest from the acceleration. As their forward motion slammed
the vehicle into the tumbling BMW, the Nova’s forward speed instantly
dropped from eighty-five to less than twenty. The girls flew over the
passenger backrest at sixty miles per hour where they pierced the
windshield, shot across the hood and hit the BMW with flailing motions,
falling listlessly to the ground.
For nearly a mile, the
thousands of pounds of steel that made up the SUV, BMW, Chevy Nova and
big rig skidded and rolled until the grade of the hill they were
climbing brought the macabre parade of vehicles to a stand still.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my
God,” Crystal whispered, viewing the carnage through the huge windshield
Terri Anne Browning, Anna Howard