First off, I am totally ticked at myself for not getting a photo, but by the time I got to the accident scene, traffic was moving and I have a hard enough time dealing with my camera phone while I am not behind the wheel of a 79,680 pound 18-wheeler (I was carrying big, fat rolls of paper). So, my apologies for not having visual aids.
I was hauling the aforementioned load from Atlanta to Indianapolis and had to first ascend Monteagle Mountain on I-24 just northwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s pretty steep – 6% grade for most of the way. The ascent went reasonably well as I chugged up the mountain in 7th and 8th gears. Like I said, I was heavy. Just over the crest of the mountain the traffic slowed to a crawl so I was in 3rd or 4th gear, if not stopped, for the next five miles. As I finally merged into the left lane, I saw why the right lane was closed.
The ass end of a trailer was resting on the guard rail on the right (downhill) side of the freeway. While the path of the highway was leveling out at this point, the grade across the freeway was still very steep. The mountain went straight up from the ascending, eastbound lane, flattened out, of course, across the four lanes and median of the interstate, and then went straight down from the westbound lanes.
So I saw the ruts the semi made from the eastbound lanes, across the median, over the westbound lanes and into the heavily wooded downmountain side of the road and thought, Holy Crap, how many times have I contemplated running off the road and down the side of a mountain. The wrecked truck was almost perfectly perpendicular to to the roadway and I couldn’t see much more than the last ten feet of trailer. The downslope was more than 45 degrees and, as I said, heavily wooded. The trees obviously saved the rig from rumbling all the way down to the floor of the valley. I can only hope the driver didn’t take a tree branch through the windshield and into his face.
Before I started driving trucks I would have come up on this scene and thought the truck driver really messed up. Now though, I wonder, did some jerk four-wheeler cut in front of him and forced him off the road?
No telling. Just hope noone was seriously injured and the driver has a good story to tell about how he ran off a mountain and survived. May I never have a first person story like it.
After clearing the wreck I