Feb 10, 2015

Woman injured when wind blows semi off road


An Oregon woman was injured and her husband shaken up Thursday night when high winds pushed the tractor-trailer rig they were in onto its side on Wyo. Highway 294.

Brian Bragg of Eagle Recovery, based in Cody, works inside the cab of a semi tractor as his father, Russ Bragg, walks toward the front of the truck. They, along with Josh Parson (not pictured) uprighted the truck by separating the tractor and trailer, then pulling them up with two heavy-duty tow trucks. Photo by Ilene Olson

Lowell Vanderveen of Oregon was driving the rig north on Wyo. 294, also known as Badger Basin Highway, en route to Columbus, Mont., according to a report from Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Laurie Crocker.

The semi crested a hill at mile post 7.2 and began the descent into Badger Basin at about 5:50 p.m. when a strong gust of wind caught the empty box trailer, which acted like a sail and tipped the semi onto its passenger-side tires. It was forced onto the soft right shoulder of the road, then flipped it on its side on an embankment on the right side of the highway, Crocker reported.

Both occupants were wearing lap and shoulder belts, and Vanderveen was able to get out of the cab. But his wife, Shirley Vanderveen, was partially pinned by her right arm and head just outside the passenger window.

When rescue personnel arrived, they secured the semi to ensure it did not roll any further, and Powell volunteer firefighters used airbags to lift the semi off Shirley Vanderveen.

Shirley Vanderveen sustained a broken right arm, lacerations and a large hematoma to the right side of her face, according to the report.

Vanderveen was transported to Powell Valley Hospital, where she remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition, hospital spokesman Jim Cannon said.

The Vanderveens were traveling with two small dogs, one of which died in the crash, Crocker said.

Lowell Vanderveen said the experience was “like being in an airplane without wings.”

In all his years of driving, he’s never experienced anything like it, he said.

Crocker said there were no posted wind advisories for the highway when the crash occurred. Strong winds battered the area Thursday through Saturday.

A 70-mph gust was recorded one mile west-northwest of Powell at 9:59 p.m. Thursday. A gust of 114 mph was recorded five miles west-northwest of Clark at 10:38 p.m. Friday.

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