February 28, 2002
I nearly died twice last Thursday, and just in case there is anyone out there who isn’t aware, black ice is totally unforgiving. Entering Shale Bluffs at about 3 p.m., the sun had just gone behind the mountain and the foot of snow the day before in conjunction with the hot weather had left a lot of moisture on the road.
My timing turned out to be unfortunate for me, as I was a few minutes ahead of the chemical spraying road crew and the downvalley traffic. The combination of Shale Bluffs essentially being a huge bridge, the moisture and the change in temperature turned the road into an ice rink.
I slid straight into the safety barrier – the only thing between me and a 400-foot drop and eternity. Thanks to the great job done by the engineers and road builders, I’m still alive.
I bounced off the barrier into the middle of the road facing the wrong way. When I realized I was unhurt, my instincts told me to run back up the road and try to slow the downvalley traffic before it slammed into me and the remains of my beloved truck.
People started braking, skidding, spinning, and although it was a bad situation, no one was hurt. With hindsight, I am glad I was able to slow the traffic before it hit the black ice or I’m sure a much worse situation would have developed.
I hope I have learned my lesson to never underestimate the lethal nature of shaded areas of highway after a snowfall, befooled by the speed of other motorists or lulled into a false sence of security by products such as magnesium chloride.
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