Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Killed Bullwinkles Wife

I really didn't mean to.
She just, kinda, came out of nowhere. 

I was heading west on I-70 in the mountain town of Vail, going to our store in Avon to make a delivery.

My truck was fully loaded with 8,000 gallons of highly flammable liquid, specifically, if memory serves, 6,500 gallons of Unleaded gasoline, and 1,500 gallons of #2 Diesel.  Gross weight of truck: 80,000#

It was a bit drizzly, but visibility was good.  Just then, in front of me, appeared a large animal going from my right to the left.  It had just about cleared the path in front of me, to the left, so I wiggled the steering wheel a bit to the right to avoid the animal.  At that same instant another animal was there, in front of me, to my right.  I again teased the steering wheel back to the left to avoid this animal, and was almost successful.

In a fuel tanker you can't jerk the steering wheel to avoid a collision as you might in an automobile.  The liquid basically stays in one place when the vehicle is moved suddenly, and sloshes back to the other side of the tank when you correct, thereby possibly causing a roll-over.  So any movement has to be quick and limiting, or just smooth and graceful.  The front of the tractor can be wiggled from side-to-side without affecting the trailer, and that is what I was trying to accomplish.

Just about as I was passing it, through the windshield, I saw the animal rear up on its hind legs, looking like it was trying to avoid hitting my truck.  I didn't hit it, it hit me.  Just behind the passenger door, missing the hood, fender, air cleaner, windshield, mirror assembly, and passsenger door.  Instead it hit the exhaust stack, denting the stack cover, which is stainless steel, the aluminum step handle, and the bottom of the exhaust stack.  It then hit the fuel tank, denting it.  It also took the cap off of the marker light, sparing the bulb!  The animal spun around and hit the trailer fender over the drive axles, mangling it. 

I saw the animal, after it had hit the drive axles, spin away off to the shoulder.  I immediately hit the brakes and brought the truck to a not-too-casual stop.  Looking in my rear-view mirror, I could see the animal laying along the side of the highway, not moving. 

I immediately called the police, reported that I had hit an elk, then went out to inspect the truck for damage. 

The last elk that I had hit came out of the woods and ran in front of me in full daylight.  I was empty, just having made a delivery in Fairplay.  I tried to miss it, but didn't have enough room on the shoulder without going over the edge.  That accident caused $15,000 worth of damage to the truck.  The elk paid dearly with its life. 

The Vail Police showed up almost immediately, back behind me where the animal lay.  And there they sat.  I was getting impatient waiting for them, when they finally came up to my truck. 

The Officers I dealt with were very polite, courteous, almost to the point of being friendly.  Yes, I know, "Police" and "friendly" in the same sentence is almost an oxy-moron.  But I've dealt with many of the Law Emforcement Personnel in that area over the years, and have to admit that they are some of the nicest people around! 

As I found out, it was a small female moose that I had hit.  Somebody guessed it to be about 800#.  I got lucky; not so much the moose.  The impact had broken all four of her legs, and the delay of the Police to get up to my truck was because they had to euthanize her.  Bummer. 

So, that's how I Killed Bullwinkles Wife. 

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