None of the pictures are from the actual incident - this was long before cellphones were a thing. I just added some for illustration purposes.
Many years ago, in my youth, I was a UPS Delivery Driver.
Well, when you are low on the seniority list, you would get all the “leftover” jobs the higher seniority drivers didn’t want. This was one of them.
Typical Michigan winter day, snow, ice, generally crappy road conditions. Well, all of the Ground packages were loaded up – but the Air (Overnight/Priority) packages were stuck in Flint, and our center was based in Saginaw. So, I’m the lucky guy who gets to make the trip.
Not a big deal, actually an easy run – just going to pick up 50 or so packages and bring them back. Sure, the roads are ice covered, but even at a young age I had a lot of experience driving in poor conditions.
The best part about this run, is while you are usually stuck with the crappiest vehicle in the fleet (the ones that the mechanics had held together with duct tape and hope) I got to drive the BRAND NEW Ford Econoline delivery van. One of only 2 of our entire fleet with an automatic transmission, and it had heat!
Damn, I was riding in luxury.
So, I’m halfway between Saginaw and Flint on Southbound I-75 in absolute shitty conditions.
Snowy, windy, and It had been sleeting for the last 20 minutes, so everything was coated in ice.
(Fun fact about driving a rear-wheel-drive, empty delivery van with a fiberglass extended roof in icy conditions and high winds. It is, in fact, not fun. )
I was in the center lane (best condition), cruising along at approximately 40 mph, being passed on both sides by pretty much everyone on the road. I decided I should probably get over to the right lane as I was going much slower than everyone else. Well, the right lane was terrible. Snow covered and worse than the center lane. So I decided to ease back. As I was trying to get back to the slightly better center lane, I went under an overpass and came out to a huge gust of wind from the West, which caught the extended roof, lightweight empty van like a freshly unfurled sail in the Americas Cup yacht race. All of a sudden I was travelling West (still facing South). Luckily I was down to 30-35mph at this time, and there was no other vehicles near me, so I was not panicked. As I was literally being pushed towards the median, my though was “Oh shit, I’m going to get stuck and need to be towed out”.
I need not have worried; I did not get stuck in the median.
As both driver’s side wheels hit the built-up snow/ice/slush on the edge of the road, the van did a complete 360 roll over into the median. Complete roll over. Remember the roof made of fiberglass? Didn’t hold up so well.
I ended up back on all 4 wheels, still facing South – but in the middle of Northbound I-75. Just like this car here:
The van had stalled, but miraculously started up (for the very last time) and I was able to pull it back into the median. Cars were pulling off the side of the road and people were rushing to assist.
I unbuckled, opened my door, and got out.
The truck was a mess.
The roof was crushed, both side mirrors ripped clean off, both sides of the van were crumpled like used wrapping paper. It had less than 500 miles on the odometer.
My only thought was “I am so fired”.
From one of the cars emerged a young woman who came rushing up to me. “Are you ok?”
I’m fine, not a scratch. I tell her.
Then she askes me something that I still chuckle about to this day.
“I’m a nurse, how is your heart rate?”
(Well, I had just destroyed the newest vehicle in our fleet in spectacular fashion.)
It’s a little elevated, I responded. (I mean….duh)
Then the police, ambulances and a few fire trucks show up. From my understanding, it was quite the spectacular crash. People assumed I was dead, or at least seriously injured. The police were surprised to find out I was the driver; as they were getting ready to search for the body that must have obviously been thrown from the van when the vehicular acrobatics occurred.
But, because I was wearing my seatbelt, the van was empty (no packages to fly around and beat me to death) the only “injury” I suffered was a bruise around my shoulder from the seat belt.
I did not get fired (worked another 9 years at UPS) since I was issued no citation. The police determined I was not at fault as they had responded to several other very similar incidents that day.
The most memorable part of this was the mandatory physical exam (per company policy) I undertook the very next day.
When I got to the doctor’s office, the receptionist was taking my medical history.
Did you sustain any injury?
Do you have any Allergies?
Are you on any medications?
When was your last bowel movement?
"When I flipped the van"
She actually wrote that down.