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So this happened on my way home from the ECR.


Chad Heiser
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As some of you may know, I had a bit of an issue on my trip home from the ECR.  I left the ECR on Monday May 2.  I was trying to work my way to Colorado on my way home to California so I could stop in and see my mom before Mother’s Day.  I was heading west on I25 about sixty miles into Kentucky from Tennessee when a random tire came rolling across the interstate from the center median.  It literally came out of nowhere after I passed under an overpass.  Of course the tire was rolling right for the front of my rig and there wasn’t much I could do to avoid colliding with it.  

I was traveling in the slow lane with my cruise set to 65 mph.  I was towing my 21000 pound DRV with my Kenworth T2000.  Luckily I was alone in the truck as my DW didn’t attend the rally with me because of her work schedule.  I’m glad she didn’t have to experience the situation first hand.

My only thought once I saw the rolling tire was to try to avoid taking it head on and putting it through the radiator and into the engine, or worse, bouncing it up and into the cab.  I had two choices, swerve left or swerve right.  Well I guess I had three choices, as taking it head on was also a choice.  I immediately negated that choice though because I knew that was going to cause severe damage and I hoped my other options might give me a chance of avoiding damage (to bad hopes aren’t reality).  

My decision making process next negated swerving left into the fast lane because I didn’t know if there was another vehicle along side me or coming upon me in that lane.  My rig is nearly sixty five feet long so there was a lot of potential space for another vehicle to be occupying alongside me.  The situation happened so fast that there wasn’t time to check my mirror for another vehicle or vehicles in the fast lane and also asses and then react before the collision with the tire.  This all lead me to the decision to swerve right to try to take the collision with the tire to the side of the truck rather than the front.  This whole process was within a second or two.

Once I swerved, unfortunately I ran out of pavement quickly and got the right steer tire in the dirt.  I knew trying to correct back to the left in that situation would be bad and I also knew the trailer momentum was trying to catch up to the truck’s change in direction and another quick change in direction would have been bad.  Once the truck touched dirt at an angle, I really didn’t have a choice other than to ride it into the ditch and do what I could to keep things in line.  There was a bit of a downslope going into the ditch and then another pretty good up slope on the other side of the ditch.  I did my best to get the truck into the bottom of the ditch and keep the trailer in line behind me.  Once I knew the truck was doing what I wanted it to, I checked my driver mirror for the trailer.  All I saw was the trailer leaning at an extreme angle to the driver side.  It was at such an extreme angle that I thought for sure it was going over.  Rather than slamming on the brakes, I kept the truck moving forward in the hopes it would pull the trailer back into line.  Thankfully it did.

Once I came to a stop, I took a second to asses myself and then the truck interior and then I got out to checkout the trailer and truck exterior.  The truck didn’t look bad at all to my surprise.  Unfortunately the trailer didn’t fair so well.  I walked around the whole rig and the trailer had significant damage on all four sides.  I could see from damage to the front cap and damage to the truck bed rails that the trailer had articulated enough in both directions to slam the front cap into the rails.  I was pretty dismayed at the damage, but was happy I was ok and no one else was hurt.  Unbelievably, no one else stopped to check on me though.

i did have a dash cam running at the time of the incident and it caught everything.  Unfortunately it doesn’t show what the trailer was doing behind the truck.  I called the state troopers and eventually got a tow there to get me out of the ditch.  Then I got roadside assistance to bring me two new tires as both passenger side tires and one rim were destroyed when the trailer ran over another bare wheel that happened to be laying in the ditch.

Once the trailer had the ability to roll again, I drug it to the next exit to see how it would do.  I assessed it at the scene first and it looked towable.  Most of the damage appeared to be to the structure above the frame but I was trying to be as cautious as possible.  After another inspection, everything appeared to be roadworthy so I decided to turn around and head to a truck stop I had passed a ways back.  I got there and had a mechanic assess things as well.  The mechanic also agreed things were roadworthy so I made the decision to head to my DRV dealer (Rolling Retreats) in Elk City, Oklahoma.  I got through Nashville late and found another truck stop where I could get some sleep.  The next morning I got on the road again after another assessment and started making miles.  The trailer was crabbing slightly to the passenger side, but otherwise was serviceable.  I made it to Rolling Retreats Tuesday evening and had some friends there who helped me out.  

I’ve been sitting here ever since.  I finally got the word from my insurance company this afternoon (Wednesday a week and a day after I arrived) that the trailer was a total loss.  Now I am moving forward dealing with that.  Jim and Kellie Stockman (fellow HDTers, full timers and friends of mine) have been here since before I arrived and have shown me great hospitality (along with others).  They have a YouTube channel (as some of you may know) called Suite Travels.  Jim asked me about participating in a video about HDTs and safety and I agreed.  The video posted today and it includes my dash cam footage, footage from the tow company who got me out of the ditch (who also have a YouTube channel) and an interview with me about the incident.  I thought it might interest some of you.  Here is the video.  

 

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Chad, first off glad to hear you are safe and uninjured after this mishap on your return trip home, I will be watching the video a bit later today. It was a great pleasure to meet you at the ECR and will be following along to see what happens next, stay safe.

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Chad I saw the video last night. I am so grateful you are ok and that you were pulling with a rig that allowed some ability to control the situation once the situation took over. I also appreciate your willingness to share your story. I have been involved in transportation and training drivers for almost 25 years now. Had you not been paying attention, which is all to common on the roads today this could have ended much worse. I am sorry to hear about the trailer as it was a beautiful rig. I wish you the best with the insurance company and sorting those material things out.  Again, so glad that you walked away unharmed. 

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Chad, it's good to know you were not hurt.  My first thought after seeing the video was how was your wife.  Good to know she didn't have to go through what you did.  After knowing you were not hurt my thoughts went to your 5th wheel that I know you put so much work into.  I could just imagine your feelings knowing its a total loss.  Then I starting looking at the bright side.  This means you get to build up a new trailer.  I'll be waiting to see what the new one has to bring.  
 

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Thanks for the well wishes.  I have no idea where the tire came from and I don’t think there is anyway to determine that.  No one stopped on either side of the interstate and that section had a large median and a slight incline up to the opposing lanes.  I assume it came from the opposing lanes, but I cannot say for sure.  I also don’t know if it came off an axle or if it was cargo that came loose.

As for the trailer, it was a real bummer after I just built it up with a lot of stuff intending to keep it for at least another five years (especially the two week old RV Flex Armor roof).  I was able to salvage all my solar system components and a lot of other stuff from the 5er.  The only stuff that got destroyed was a coffee maker & pot and a few glasses and mugs.  A lot of stuff came out the upper cupboards but not much of it was damaged.  Most of the stuff we kept up high was soft or non breakable items.

We were lucky as far as Rolling Retreats had a brand new toy hauler sitting on their lot that just arrived.  It is almost identical to the rig I was trying to convince my wife to switch to (but I lost that battle which is why I started upgrading the old 5er).  Things will work out in the end, but it definitely isn’t the path I thought I would be on when I left the ECR.

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I remember seeing that you being a LEO have had lots of training in driving and traffic.  I am sure that training was helpful in your "incident".  

I am also sure that you had some good karma coming your way with all you do for this community.  

It could have gone some many different ways.  And to have a replacement rig available in this "supply chain" time!!

I had been on the fence about spending the $ for a camera system for my truck.  Well minutes after seeing that video the decision was made and the order was placed.  Just another piece of equipment to help us to he safe.

Thank you for sharing this with us as I know I have learned alot from that experience.  

 

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Hey Brad, good job keeping the shinny side up and no one hurt.

Ditches  can be tough places for KW's to make much mileage.

 

Back in the stone age Grumps had a 1954 needle-nose KW saphire mist blue with  300 cumminz with a 8-71 huffer cobbled on its side with a five main and a four brownie and twin screw GI Mack two speeds so with only FORTY speed it was just wiggling a few levers to keep "ole-blue" moving smartly down the roads with too many tons of logs in the bunks.

It was a HOT July afternoon about 30 miles South of Bend, Oregon and the logging was shut down for the day due to low humidity so being child-slave-labor I had been "bumping - knots (chain sawing limbs off felled trees) so Grumps had picked up the last load of logs for the day and I was riding shoot gun on the tool box with the horse-hair pad seat on the passenger side. 

 

We had a large load of Doug Fir and it was very green and heavy (+85,000 logs) but we were on a paved county two lane road traveling about 45 mph rounding a fairly sweeping curve when all of a sudden a "Bug-Eye-Sprite" came around the curve right in the middle of our lane......Grumps swerved HARD RIGHT on to the shoulder that was mostly volcanic pumice (about like styrofoam packing peanuts) and I remember well watching the turn signal light on top of the fender go deep into the pumice as Grumps reached over with his right arm and put me in a head-lock hoping to keep me out of the way of the logs as they would almost certainly would pass through the cab,  but I slipped from his grip just as the passenger side windshield popped out as i followed it out just as a couple of logs gave me a hard push in the butt as i slid out the hood top and my chin stopped right on top of the hot radiator cap.

As usual i had not known when to keep my mouth shut, so I was choking on a mouth full of pumice and had a few scrapes but glad to get off the hot radiator cap.

Grumps was scraped up a bit from some bark scrapes as a log slid by (where i had been sitting) but he was ok after the dust settled.......

Just like you Brad the sports car just kept on going and we had to bum a ride into town with a fire crew truck.

HDT's are great tow rigs but oh boy oh boy do they hit HARD when they do tip over........

Drive on......If you gotta go in the ditch.......DO NOT ROLL......

 

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19 hours ago, Brad & Jacolyn said:

When are you going to be able to start for home with the new rig?

I left for home Saturday morning (finally).  Nothing in tow yet though.  The new rig has to go through PDI and get some things built and added before it is ready.  I will be making another trip back to Oklahoma in a couple weeks to get it.  Then I need to get it home and try to get all my stuff in it before leaving for the WCR.

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Sounds like you're going to be busy.  Picking up your trailer, setting it up the way you want it and putting on the WCR...........I bet you're glad your retired.  I got confidence you can do it.  
Sitting here thinking, if you want to do a turn and burn to get your trailer and need a co-driver, let me know.  I'm always up for a road trip............

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