In a scary, scary trailer accident this morning

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hobbyhorse23

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I meant to go down to Happ's yesterday for this month's Arena Driving Trial but ended up deciding to wait until this morning because, ironically, I thought it would be safer than driving down late at night.
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I still don't know what happened exactly but as the sun rose spectacularly at 7AM we were coming southbound through a construction area on I-405 with a nasty right-hand curve and I glanced down for something (maybe I heard something shift on the seat, maybe it was a gauge, I honestly don't remember) but when I looked up we were drifting slightly towards the right-hand jersey barrier. Not a big deal, I was nowhere near hitting it, but I corrected left and must have done so harder than I thought. The next thing I knew the steering wheel yanked itself violently left and then right and then the trailer was fishtailing and I was desperately fighting for control. I had a moment to be startled then disbelief and fear flooded my system as I realized this was really serious and we were in deep trouble. I remembered to make sure my foot was off the brake and reminded myself to try and drive forward rather than correcting for each wild swing but the trailer was cracking like a whip and our momentum on the curve was adding to the difficulties as I had to continue steering to the right in order to avoid going off the road. I lost control (having at least managed to keep it from turning into a rollover which it was threatening to do) and somehow - things get a little fuzzy here - we were headed right for the right-hand jersey barrier which was all that stood between us and a long drop down to 1-90 under the new overpass they're building.

Just the night before my dad and I had watched a Modern Marvels episode on road safety technology and for the first time I'd seen computer models of how safety barriers are supposed to work, absorbing the energy of the vehicle that hits them and helping to prevent them from rebounding into traffic. In one of those weird frozen moments of shock I had time to think about that as the front end headed straight for it and to pray that the barrier was strong enough to hold. I had the clear thought, "this is really going to happen. I can't save this situation and we're going to be in an accident. Oh God," and then the front right wheel of the truck was climbing the barrier. I remember seeing sky through the passenger side windshield and thinking we were going to flip and just praying the trailer didn't go too. At that moment as near as I can figure the trailer slid into the barrier as well and must have pulled or pushed the truck back down somehow. The truck's front end swung to the left and the trailer bounced off the barrier, sending us across two lanes of traffic towards the left-hand jersey barrier. This one was all that separated the southbound lanes of 1-405 from a steep hill down to the northbound lanes. I knew without a doubt if we went through that barrier we were going to roll over down the grass embankment and then crash into oncoming traffic upside down and I suspected the chances of either Kody or I surviving that experience were minimal. I was still fighting to steer the vehicle or keep it under some sort of control but mostly I was one long wordless prayer for help and for that last barrier to hold. Please God, Please God, Please God....

We hit and skated sideways on the left front quarter and the trailer slung around behind me hard until we slammed to a halt, jack-knifed into immobility. All I could do was grip the wheel and wait, immobilized with shock, to see if it was over yet. After a moment I realized we weren't moving and then my next thought was that all the people behind us most certainly were and I was probably about to be t-boned at 60-70 miles per hour since we were sideways across two lanes of freeway. A frantic glance out my driver's side window assured me that in fact traffic was already forming into a line to dodge around the rear bumper of the trailer (nice of them to stop, wasn't it?
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) and I was not in immediate danger of being further injured. All on its own, some mechanical part of my brain was determined to organize and figure out the next step so I eyed the hood of the truck with suspicion for steam or smoke and decided it was best to turn off the engine before anything took it into its head to explode. Prying my fingers off the steering wheel I thought vaguely that I needed to call 911 so I looked around the cab for my cell phone and noticed with detached interest that everything had been thrown to the floor. I found it and managed to call Emergency Dispatch and explain what had happened and where I was before the rest of my brain exploded to life under the pressure of supressed fear and produced one agonized thought: "KODY!!" It had only been moments since we'd crashed but I flung myself out of the vehicle and RAN for the back with my heart in my throat and my only thought that if he was hurt or worse I would literally never forgive myself. I flung down one of the side windows and climbed up calling his name only to squeeze my eyes shut on sudden grateful tears as he nickered and turned from where he'd been standing calmly facing the back door to look for me. The feel of his soft nose on my hand as he reached up to touch me was the most precious thing I've felt in years and all I could think was that if he and I were both okay very little else mattered.
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By that point a gray car was pulling over and a moment later a clean-cut young man in dress shirt and tie was literally running over to me to see if I was alright. I reassured him that we both seemed to be okay and that I had called the State Patrol so he proceeded to set out road flares (a good thing as I suddenly realized I didn't know where they were in the truck or even if we had any) and stayed until it was clear everything was okay. It had STILL only been moments at that point (I got to Kody quicker than it sounds!) so I stopped to collect myself for a second in the surreally beautiful early morning sunlight. As I did I noticed a small yellow car pulling into the construction area across the lane from me and realized with some bemusement that I knew the young woman getting out of the unfamiliar vehicle. It didn't even startle me; at that point it seemed I had lost my ability to be surprised. It was a girl I went to high school with and hadn't seen for eight years until a mutual friend's bridal shower this last August, and like me she works in a hospital. Bless her, she was apparently pulling over anyway to see if she could help when I climbed out of the truck and she said with shock "Oh my God, that's Leia!" She stayed with me until the State Patrol finally arrived on the scene and although not a horse person her first question after "Are you okay?" was "Is your horse okay?" Again, bless her.
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They were the only two who stopped to help out of all those cars.
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The rest of a long story short, the State Patrol ended up moving the whole rig under its own power to the other side of the Coal Creek Parkway interchange to wait for a tow truck and I started calling around trying to find a ride home for Kody. I realized I only knew two local people with trailers anymore and couldn't reach either of them at 7AM on a Saturday morning so there was a lovely period of panic as I called around trying to get some help. Kody had hit his limit when the officer very jerkily shoved the rig backwards out of its jackknife (Stop, start, slam. Stop, start, slam. Stop, start, slam. How many times can we throw the poor horse against a wall?? He obviously had no idea how to press the accelerator on a truck) and by the time it was parked again Kody was shaking and sweating and pawing at the door and calling for me whenever he heard my voice. I'd made things worse by climbing in a window to check him over for injuries shortly after the State Patrol arrived; he was grateful I was there and gently lipped the tears off my face but when I left he'd become distraught and being thrown around again was apparently the last straw. The tow guy carefully hauled the whole rig off to a school near the exit and helped me get the back door open so i could get Kody out and walk him while they unhitched the truck and trailer and loaded them on separate tow trucks. Thankfully after a few minutes of walking he peed and started eating grass and quickly settled after that. That's especially good given that my vet never returned my call.
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By the time they were ready to go he was beginning to trot around me in happy little circles like he always does when he's excited about being somewhere new so I was fairly confident he'd be fine. My pocket book is a whole 'nother case as the trailer, unfortunately, is not insured and took a lot of damage and even getting it home cost about $400. Still, I can't count the ways in which I was lucky in this accident. It could have been so much worse!!
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1) I'm fine.

2) Kody is fine.

3) There was no one beside me on the road when I lost control

4) No one else was injured, or even involved.

5) The first barrier held.

6) The second barrier held.

7) Kody is fine. Have I mentioned that Kody is fine??

8) The truck is still running and fully insured.

9) When I called Maureen at Happ's she had just left for the ADT but came back in because she forgot her keys and got my call for help. She canvassed the competitors for anyone who knew someone with a truck and trailer in the area and found an eventer who was willing to come get Kody although I ended up not needing it.

10) The cops said I couldn't have picked a better place to come to a halt as it was the only spot in a very long stretch of highway where due to the construction there was plenty of shoulder and open space to allow traffic through.

11) We didn't roll over.

12) An old friend was three cars behind me when it happened.

13) My Frontier cart was thrown out of the back of the truck and rolled down the freeway at 60mph and yet is completely undamaged except for some paint scrapes.

14) The tow truck driver who hauled the trailer and Kody knew horses and lived a block from my house an hour north so he knew exactly where to go and drove as carefully as I could wish.

15) I just happened to have a tube of Banamine in the trailer that I had left packed "just in case."

16) I had fully charged my cell phone "just in case" so it held out through all the emergency calls I had to make.

17) Except for some initial trouble with the back door, all the doors still functioned on the trailer and the frame was intact enough to haul it home safely.

18) Kody actually got back on the trailer when I asked him to and remained calm all the way home.

Do I need to go on?
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I sincerely believe there must have been guardian angels flying beside us clearing the road, holding that barrier against the weight of the truck and one was undoubtedly in the trailer wrapping great sheltering wings around my horse and keeping him from injury. I can't see how else the two of us made it out of that situation with not so much as a scratch. I'm incredibly grateful to them and to my concerned earthly friends who made me feel so much better by their caring. I liked Susanne's line about the trailer: "Just think of it this way...the trailer gave its life to protect Kody." Somehow that makes it seem so much more positive!
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Here are a bunch of pictures I took. For once it didn't occur to me to get a camera out but my friend in the yellow car reminded me that if I had a camera it would be a good idea to take some pictures for insurance documentation so I started snapping.

Here's what my rig looked like from the left shoulder on the north side of the accident. It might not seem that bad...until you remember we were going SOUTH. :DOH!

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From the south side, the way we were originally traveling:

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That is where I found my cart, exactly how I found it sitting when I finally got around to walking around the other side of the trailer. I hadn't even noticed it was missing and there it was, just sitting in the middle of the road like someone had set it there! One shaft cover was completely undamaged, the other one had been pulled free so hard the black shaft cap had come off inside it and had such severe road rash the duct tape had worn away completely and there was a hole ground in the sheepskin.

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One bungee securing it had snapped in the middle, one had just come loose but wrapped around the shaft multiple times from the force of the rebound and the metal hooks on the other one had actually been pulled straight by the force of the accident. None of these were light-weight bungees.
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The shavings in the back had been thrown completely up against the door, there were none on the floor anymore.

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My tack room looked like someone had picked it up and shaken it like a big snow globe. Things from the back were in the front, things from the front were in the back, things from the bottom were on the top...you get the idea.

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This is a closeup of how the trailer was crumpled into the truck:

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And the front of the truck up against the barricade:

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The State Patrolmen rolled my cart over towards the shoulder when they moved the truck. And yes, there were the usual jokes about giving each other "pony rides."
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Men.

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Look at the line of traffic that formed in just a few minutes at 7AM on a Saturday!
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I hate this area.

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hobbyhorse23

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Once we got the vehicles home we got a closer look at the damage:

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Even the truck tires got it. Look at the weird groove on the right front tire, and the rip in the left front one!

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Okay, now I'm depressed again.
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Kody and I have both been drugged to the gills but it's going to be awhile before we quit feeling this one I think, both inside and out. I just thank God things went the way they did and the damage wasn't worse. I will DEFINITELY be reopening my U.S. Rider account so if God forbid something like this should ever happen again the towing would be covered and Kody would have a guaranteed safe ride home. I hadn't realized how important that could be when you're so close to home!

Please everyone, drive safely. I got the pleasure of informing my mother who's on vacation in CA and my old sweetheart in Iraq by phone of what happened and both of them nearly had heart attacks. Not fun!

Leia
 
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Denise

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WOW you got real lucky on that one! I am so glad your both home & doing ok.

Sorry to hear your trailer is not insured, it looks like it took the brunt of the accident. But you both are ok and trailers can be fixed.
 

Annabellarose

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Oh my God! I am glad that you and your horse are safe!

You might want to clobber me for saying this, but, really, the damage doesn't look that bad for it having been a high-speed, truck and trailer accident. "Angels" is right!

I hope both of you recover "mentally".

What a good boy for getting back on the trailer!
 

Rebecca

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Leia so glad both you and Kody are okay! Hope you guys recover and your truck and trailer get fixed too!

Just glad you're alright, that is absolutely terrifying.

Rebecca
 

Champ

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Leia I'm Glad to hear you and Kody are all right..... that had to be Very scarey :DOH!
 

ILOVEMYHORSECOMANCHE

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OMG! I'm glad that you two made it out safely.
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I hope your trailer and truck get fixed soon.

That really is a miracle
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MiLo Minis

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Oh Leia!!! What a mess!!! I am sooooo glad both you and Kody escaped physically unharmed. It could have been sooooo much worse. You were very fortunate.

One word of caution, in case you don't know this, horses can often show no signs of stress or injury after a traumatic accident or event and then suddenly, up to several weeks later, their temperature will sky rocket, drop, sky rocket again, up and down over a couple days. Immediate veterinary assistance is required. Keep an eye on Kody for a while (although I know you will anyway <G>)
 

rabbitsfizz

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OK, I do not need to tell you how lucky you were....you will recover, so will Kody....the rest is just so much replaceable metal.

Get back behind the wheel, and towing as soon as you can.

As soon as you feel able, get Kody up behind you too, it's like falling off a horse!!

Yes, someone was watching you.

Yes, almost all of us have been there, with differing results...I have jackknifed with no damage, written off a truck on black ice without a trailer, and had a trailer VERY full of two big horses doing the "Hokey Cokey" up the motorway behind me....all very scary!!!

And had a big horse freak out in a trailer and get trapped, when I was on my own.

If I have one piece of advise it would be "never travel alone" but sometimes we have to, and I still do.....

God Bless Leia, you will be OK....get thee to a physio, and book a session for Kody, too.
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kaykay

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Im so glad you and Kody are okay!! This is one of my worst fears. I was so scared even reading that

Kay
 

mizbeth

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Yes, you were very lucky! So glad you were not hurt, or your horse. What a good boy to get back in the trailer like that..............

What on earth started it all?

Beth
 

rockin r

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What an ordeal!!!!!
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Thank God you and Kody are okay. GEZZZZZ!!!!! This is why I will not pull a trailer. I am afraid this will happen. So sad that out of all those cars only a few stopped to see if you were okay
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Glad your not hurt...Theresa
 

Minimor

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I'm sooo glad you and Kody are both okay. That's a nasty accident, but could have been so much worse. That's just the worst thing, when the trailer starts whipping like that.

I had it happen this fall, one horse on the trailer--14' stock trailer--I was on a gravel road & hit a series of potholes. The rear end of the truck shot off to one side. I corrected that but then the trailer was whipping--I was so impressed with my truck, because it actually held the road. I felt the back end twitch with each whip of the trailer, but it held on until the trailer straightened out. Even that scared me, because in that first instant I thought I was going to lose control of the whole outfit. We didn't have traffic, or barriers, or hills or dropoffs--just a gravel road with shallow ditches, and I still didn't want to go in upside down!!
 

shorthorsemom

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Whew! That was emotional reading your post! I felt like I was there at every bump and turn, I had to fast forward to read the ending to see that your horse was ok then went back and read the rest again. So glad you had a happy ending. Your angels were on guard for sure! Best wishes glad you are ok and thanks for sharing.
 

carlenehorse

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I am so sorry but glad that you and Kody are ok. You can always replace equipment but you can never replace you or Kody.

Carlene
 

CKC

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I'm so glad you both are ok. I was feeling your fear in your post. So scary.

(I'm not sure if everyone knows this, but you can get a really inexpensive trailer insurance through Geico).

Kim
 

targetsmom

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What a scary post to read but I am SO glad you and Kody are OK. Well, OK on the surface, but I am sure it will take awhile for you to recover - I know it would for me. Lots of good advice others offered here.
 

JourneysEnd

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Leia,

OMG ! Fishtailing is what worries me the most while trailering. I've heard if you hit the button on the brake controller and stop the trailer without hitting the truck brakes it will help. Fortunatly I've never had to try.

THANK GOD you two are okay !

I'm at a horse show and need to load the boys up and head home. I will be extra careful now.

I'll email you later. But the trailer may be covered under your car insurance. My insurance agent told me mine is covered as long as it's hooked to the truck. Check with your insurance.

Take care,

Vickie
 

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