Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 08 May 2012 14:46
It’s difficult to know whether it was quick-thinking, luck or divine intervention Wednesday when a semi truck veered off U.S. Highway 56 about a mile east of Hillsboro into a milo field.
The unidentified driver avoided crashing into oncoming westbound vehicles and, once he left the roadway, avoided trees and ditches that could have caused his rig to overturn.
Kansas Highway Patrol Master Trooper Chris Bauer of McPherson said he wasn’t sure what happened to the driver, who he said appeared confused after the incident.
“The driver was in no immediate danger,” he said, “but still not sure if it was a cardiac event or perhaps some sort of seizure.
“He became far more coherent at Hillsboro Community Hospital.”
Several motorists, Bauer said, told him they watched in disbelief as the semi drove off the roadway, stopping about a quarter mile later in the milo stubble.
“Witnesses said he kept going north into the fields (after leaving the highway),” Bauer said.
The incident was reported by a passing motorist at 2:15 p.m., he said.
One witness at the scene told Bauer he thought the semi driver, who was heading east, was passing his vehicle.
Minutes after the 911 call, Hillsboro ambulance personnel, firefighters, police and a sheriff’s deputy arrived.
“I was actually driving west on U.S. Highway 56 toward McPherson when I came across the incident, along with a Hillsboro officer,” he said.
About 10 motorists lined the south shoulder of the roadway in case authorities had questions.
The reason Bauer said he did not get the driver’s information was because damage didn’t exceed the state-reportable level of $1,000.
“Remarkably, the only damage I could see was to some wheat, and that was minimal,” Bauer said.
“Had there been oncoming traffic, the results would have been devastating.”
Unfortunately, medical emergencies do occur among commercial motor vehicles, too, he said, and some with tragic consequences.
“What is also amazing is that the truck did not overturn despite going through a ditch and the fields,” he said.
At the hospital, Bauer said, he told the driver that he either did a really good job, and wasn’t aware of it, or God was looking down on him.
“Or perhaps it was a little of both,” he said. “In 19 years of law enforcement, I witnessed numerous tragedies and a few miracles—this is pretty close to the latter.”