DAVIS COUNTY (ABC4 News) – A Layton woman is very lucky to be alive after a metal beam flew off a roofing truck and smashed into her car.
Nicci Sanders said she was driving on Interstate 15 northbound from Layton to North Ogden. When she was approaching the 650 North exit near Clearfield/Sunset, that’s when she knew something was wrong.
“I noticed cars going to the right and then a big metal beam in the sky came towards my car,” said Sanders. “Going at 70 miles per hour in the fast lane, I just felt there was nowhere to go that I wasn’t going to hurt other people.”
Sanders said she swerved to her left and then slammed on the brakes. The metal beam smashed through her windshield and stopped just inches from her shoulder.
“It was like a shotgun went off next to my head. It was just an explosion of glass,” said Sanders. “It was the first time in my life that I ever thought I was going to die.”
Other drivers stopped to check on Sanders, some even staying with her until Utah Highway Patrol arrived. Corporal Chris Jones, who responded to the scene, said if Sanders was driving distracted, she probably wouldn’t be alive.
“She was paying attention so she was able to react. Driving is something you have to do actively, you have to pay attention the entire time,” said Corporal Jones. “Her reaction probably did a lot to save her life, because those things fly uncontrollably and once they’re going, they’re going.”
Thanks to witnesses who called dispatch with tips, troopers with Utah Highway Patrol were able to locate the driver of the roofing truck that the metal beam belonged to and issue a citation.
“This was a good example of people seeing something and saying something,” said Corporal Jones.
Even though Sanders walked away unharmed, she said she’s still trying to process what happened.
“I haven’t driven on the freeway yet, but I’m terrified to. The more I think about it, I’m really scared to,” said Sanders.
But she said she wants to share her story, to urge drivers to secure their load before heading out.
“For anybody that handles trucks that have equipment on them, it’s really important to just make sure that everything is secure before you get on the road,” she said.
Utah Highway Patrol said 682 debris-related crashes were reported in 2016, 657 in 2017, and 698 in 2018. However, Sgt. Nick Street said the total number is probably higher because not everyone files a report. Corporal Jones also wanted to use this incident as a reminder for drivers to refrain from being distracted behind the wheel.
“Driving is not a passive thing to do. You’re constantly moving. You’re moving a 2,000-pound vehicle down the roadway and it’s easy to become distracted,” he said. “But you need to stay focused because a thousand times, nothing’s going to happen. But the one thing you’re not paying attention, something could happen.”