A motorist from Washington state had quite a scare north of Deer Lodge last week when a guardrail turned his SUV into a virtual shish kabob.
The driver of a Chevy Suburban fell asleep while driving in the eastbound lane of Interstate 90 on Sept. 2. His vehicle drifted off the road and collided head on with the guardrail, according to Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Hildenstab. The guardrail literally impaled the vehicle by penetrating through the engine block and exiting the rear window, just missing the driver.
"He didn't even have a scratch on him," Hildenstab said about the 21-year-old driver.
The trooper said it was lucky the motorist was driving solo, because the guardrail went through the passenger seat.
"If he had a passenger with him, it would have killed him," Hildenstab said.
The driver, Andy Dangerfield of Pullman, Wash., told the trooper he had left Washington early that morning on his way to Idaho. About 11:30 a.m., he started to get tired and must have fallen asleep as he was approaching Deer Lodge.
Dangerfield was cited with careless driving.
The crash left the driver badly shaken, according to Hildenstab.
"He was walking around like a ghost when I got to the scene," the trooper said.
In all his years with the highway patrol, Hildenstab said he's never seen an accident like that. He said guardrails are designed to crumple on impact. The trooper estimated that about 30 yards of guardrail traveled through the vehicle before it came to rest.
Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.