I’m writing from a condo on North Beach of Tybee Island in Savannah, Ga., and it’s a small miracle we are here.
My family has always driven to vacations. Over the years, we hit Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado and Florida — lots of Florida.
Spending 12-14 hours in a vehicle is never the most fun thing to do, but we made the most of our rides and I always felt safe with my dad behind the wheel of one of our Ford Expeditions.
Last Friday, the family and I embarked on a nine-hour venture to the University of Kentucky, where I was honored to accept a Golden Dozen Award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. More on that later.
In our little Kia Soul, we left before the sun came up and were making great time, cruising down I-44 toward St. Louis. Just past Cuba, I changed lanes to pass a semi going the general semi speed. I hate passing semis exactly for what was just about to happen.
As I got about midway past the trailer, the whole rig began to hug the center line. I slowed down. I thought if he did come over, I had a batter chance to avoid the back of him than the front.
He did come over. I hit the brakes and took the shoulder, which at that part of I-44, mile marker 220.8, put my driver’s side off the pavement and in the bumpy grass of the median. As I tried to keep us
As I tried to keep us upright and, frankly, alive, the underride guard connected with the front passenger quarter panel.
As we slowed to a stop, the semi did not. I don’t think the driver ever even saw us, and I’m confident in my belief the driver fell asleep. There were no identifying marks on the trailer we could remember, and though a couple vehicles passed us right after it happened, no one other than us reported the incident.
I’ve been in a couple wrecks, but never one like this. thankfully, no one was hurt whatsoever, and I immediately called 9-1-1.
As frightening as the experience with the truck was, we then spent the better part of 20 minutes facing another anxiety while waiting for the state trooper — traffic.
The hair on the back of my neck got a workout as all size of vehicles whizzed past us, feet from where my daughters were sitting in their carseats. It’s tough in that moment to not think of the worst case scenario.
Fortunately, the trooper arrived, and a tow truck hauled us back to Cuba. We were roadside for maybe 40-50 minutes, which was not too bad, all things considered.
As the 7-year-old enjoyed a ride in the tow truck — it was really tall — I began calling for a rental vehicle. After all, we are still loaded down and only three hours into an 8-day vacation.
My insurance company set up a rental at Enterprise, but in Monett. I called three others, and none of them had a vehicle available for a day or two.
For a while after we got back to the tow shop, we were stranded.
Then, the tow truck operator came in. He said on closer inspection of the vehicle, it runs perfectly, and the damage to the quarter panel and bumper could be fixed.
About 30 minutes and a dozen zipties later, we were back on the road.
Six days later, it still boggles my mind a bit that I was able to avoid the semi that much while still getting hit at 70 miles per hour. Add onto that we went another 1,000 miles with the bumper ziptied, and this is a drive I will never forget.
Since arrival in Tybee Island, we’ve made the most of our venture. To me, there’s not much that matches being in the ocean. We’ve also toured the local marine science center, which had multiple turtles, crabs, starfish and other tropical life.
On Wednesday, we boarded a yacht for a sunset dolphin tour, which did not disappoint.
After we leave Tybee, we will make a stop at the famous Ruby Falls in Chattanooga before embarking on the about 9-hour trip back to Barry County.
The best part of that last leg — we won’t be on I-44.
Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014.
In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.