The hail came so suddenly and violently that Lynn Summers scrambled into the backseat to protect her daughter.
Lynn’s husband, William, had just pulled their pickup and fifth-wheel camper onto the westbound shoulder of U.S. Highway 212, where the wind was roaring across the treeless plains several miles east of Newell, reported the Rapid City Journal.
Hailstones – some as large as softballs – pounded the windows, and Lynn feared the glass would break. She gathered up pillows and blankets to shield herself and her daughter.
“The next thing I knew,” Lynn later recalled, “we were being lifted up.” The force of the wind flung the pickup across the two-lane highway to the opposite shoulder, where the pickup landed upside-down. The camper – still hooked up to the pickup – crashed onto its side.
Though still suspended by their seatbelts, Lynn and her daughter worked their way free, but the pickup had been compressed enough that they could not see William.
Lynn found her cell phone and called 911. The dispatcher had trouble hearing Lynn’s voice over the racket. Several minutes passed as she waited in the overturned pickup.
Then a face appeared in one of the pickup windows. It was Eli Janise. “I’m here to help you and get you out,” he said.
Janise helped Lynn and her daughter, and then William, climb out the pickup windows. They all waited in Janise’s SUV for emergency responders to arrive.
The only thing that may have helped is if there was enough room on the shoulder or a turnout to turn the rig into the wind and then stop. I doubt if this person had that option from the pic in the article but if it is an option, take it!
Is there expert advice on what to do in such a situation? Obviously, we check the weather forecast before and during a trip and don’t drive in dangerous weather (right, campers?) However, it sounds like this violent hailstorm was not forecast. The driver thought he was doing right by stopping, and it probably saved their lives. Is there anything else he could have done? Please don’t answer unless you are absolutely certain of your advice, as lives would be at stake.
Chuck and staff, you often report on RV accidents. I see a great need for a series of articles/videos on what to do to prevent or minimize injuries and damage from such accidents.