August 13, 2011

Semi just misses landing in Nishnabotna River

CORLEY – Two Harlan men escaped serious injury when their 2010 Ford 150 pickup was struck from the rear by a 2000 Kenworth semi whose brakes, according to the driver, had failed. The accident occurred two miles south of Corley on Hwy 59 at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27.

Harlanite Tim Meyer had stopped along with five other vehicles in the southbound lane of Hwy 59 just prior to the Nishnabotna River. The vehicles had stopped because a semi carrying a wind turbine tube had stopped on the Nishnabotna River bridge.

Just as traffic began to move Meyer said he happened to look in his rear view mirror and saw a small sports car had swerved into the gravel and then saw the semi baring down on his pickup. Meyer immediately gunned the car toward the ditch but the swerving semi swiped the driver’s side rear bumper sending the pickup into a farm lane on the west side of Hwy 59.

After striking Meyer’s truck, the unloaded semi swerved across the northbound lane of Hwy 59 and landed nearly 200 yards up the east bank of the Nishnabotna River before a grove of trees stopped it. The driver’s action to head to the ditch and Meyer’s going toward the ditch thwarted what could have been a chain reaction of rear end accidents. Officials added, if the semi had been loaded it very likely would have gone thru the grove of trees and landed in the river bed.

Passenger Alan Mores, Meyer, off-duty Harlan Reserve Officer Mike Schleimer and the DOT’s Shawn Havick ran up the ditch to check on the driver and vehicle condition. The driver, Robert W. Anderson, 46, St. Joseph, MO, was conscious and yelled out from his cab, that he was ok. Anderson was later transported to Myrtue Medical Center by Medivac Ambulance Service.

The dazed driver staring at a grove of trees that prevented him from going into the river told Mores through the driver’s side door, “I saw the cars stopped, but my brakes went mushy and I swerved to avoid hitting them.” Moments later he was on the phone with the semi’s owners explaining the accident.

Officials told Meyer that after seeing the skid marks and how close the truck was to a full rear end impact that Meyer was fortunate he was able to move the vehicle an extra couple of feet toward the gravel before the impact. Both vehicles were towed from the scene of the accident.

At the scene of the accident were: Avoca Rescue, Harlan Fire Dept., Iowa Dept. of Transportation, Iowa Highway Patrol, Medivac Ambulance Service, Shelby County EMS and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

All involved in the accident were wearing their seatbelts and the use of a seatbelt was credited with saving the life of Anderson. The Iowa Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

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