In a story that would be comical if not for how frightening it must have been, a semi truck driver was cited for a number of offenses that included marijuana possession following an accident that literally sent his rig sailing airborne into the Calapooia River near Brownville, Oregon.
Patrick Smith of Vancouver, Washington, was driving southbound on Interstate 5 when he lost control of his tractor-trailer. His vehicle crashed over the median and into the northbound lanes before Smith managed to get the truck back into the median. At this point he collided with a culvert and was launched over the culvert wall. The truck was airborne at a height of about eight feet off the road, and flew about 25 feet after clearing the road, coming down still traveling at speed on the banks of the Calapooia River. The car plunged 10 feet into the water, submerging the front tires of the vehicle.
Despite all this, the almost action-movie-quality accident injured no one except Smith himself. Smith was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, and was charged with several offenses once police arrived, including failure to maintain his lane, possession of a controlled substance in a motor vehicle and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Smith was apparently not intoxicated at the time of the accident, although the possession charge is suspicious enough.
The fact that the truck was traveling fast enough to be launched airborne shows just how much power is involved when a tractor-trailer is moving at highway speeds. It is fortunate that only the driver was hurt in this accident, because an out-of-control truck can easily demolish smaller passenger vehicles on the road. Tractor-trailers have a mass far greater than any other vehicle on the roadway, and drivers are urged to exercise caution when moving around them.