Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

A few hours stuck on I-80

 


Snowfall last Thursday made for an unusual day for residents of Sweetwater County.

Snow accumulation and terrible road conditions were anything but typical.

Since I drive back and forth between Green River and Rock Springs quite a bit I’m pretty good at judging the road conditions.

But even I, in all my infinite wisdom of 15 years living in Wyoming, was thrown through a loop Thursday morning. 

After I made sure my oldest son, Matthew, got on the bus, my youngest son, John, 4, and I made our way through Rock Springs. Before getting onto Interstate 80, I made sure to top off the gas tank. I decision I would latter be thankful for. 

Once I got gas, I headed toward the Dewar Drive on ramp, which is by exit 102. I pulled onto I-80 and thought “Man this is kind of bad.” The visibility was horrible and it looked as though it hadn’t been plowed in a while, but I still drove on.

When I was about to the Cruel Jacks exit, I thought about pulling off of the road and going home. I wish I could go back in time and take the exit, but I drove by it. Other cars around me didn’t pull off, so I figured everything was fine.

About two miles later, I noticed traffic backing up and slowed down to a complete stop. I turned on my hazard lights because I didn’t want someone to slam into the back of my car. After a big pickup truck pulled in behind me, I was still watching in my review mirror when I saw a vehicle slide off the road and hit the median cables. I don’t think anyone else noticed. I looked around and made sure no other vehicles were coming before getting out of my vehicle.

I walked toward the big truck behind me. By then three men had exited it and were talking with people in the car behind them. I asked them if they could go see if whoever hit the median cables was OK because I had a four-year-old in the car that I didn’t want to leave alone. They hadn’t even seen the car, but quickly ran to see if the person inside was alright.

I got back into my car. About 10 minutes later, one of the guys came back to tell me the lady in the car was shook up, but fine. I was glad. About a half hour passed, when one of the guys from the truck came back up to let me know they had heard from a friend who was also stuck in traffic up ahead that it was going to be three to four hours before we got moving. I wasn’t happy at all, but I thanked them for the information.

I looked around my car and realized I still had two movies in the glove compartment. Once I got the movie going to entrain my son, I started to assess my situation. I had a couple of Lifesavers, water, pop, a fig bar and a couple pieces of chocolate.

That should hold me and my son I thought. I was also thankful that I had packed snow pants, a coat, hat, gloves and boots in the back of the car after the first big storm hit. This just made me feel better knowing I had extra snow gear if I needed it.

I called everyone that needed to know where I was and let them know what was happening.

I then settled in to watch the movie with my son. Every once in a while, I would get out of the car and clean off the windows and knock the ice off of my windshield wipers.

At one point, one of the wipers fell off, but I got it back on. 

I decided just to relax and stay calm, so my son would remain calm. When he had to go potty, I just shielded him from the snow and wind and let him do his thing.

Hey, in certain situations, I believe peeing on the side of the road is justified.

Then, my phone started beeping and I saw that Matthew’s school was going to get out at 12:13 p.m. I looked at my watch, it was 11:30 a.m. We hadn’t moved an inch and snow drifts were piling up around the cars. I decided to call my neighbor to see if she could watch him for me. When she said she could. I then texted my son’s teacher to let her know where I was at and where he was supposed to go. I then anxiously waited for a text or phone call from my neighbor to let me know he had made it there OK.

Meanwhile, John had pretty much ate all of the food in the car. As I was explaining to him we have to go into survival mode like the survivors on the TV shows do, I got a knock on the window. It was one of the guys from the truck, he asked if we were hungry and if we would like some granola bars. John was yelling “Yes. I’m hungry.” And I smiled and said yes. He asked how many we wanted. I didn’t want to take all of their supply so I said two, which I must confess, I only got a bite of one. John ate the rest. 

After John was done eating, I got a text from my neighbor saying Matthew was at her house and doing just fine. 

I was relieved. 

John and I had watched two movies and were watching one of them again. I thought we might be sitting on I-80 forever, but then, after about 5 hours we started to move slowly.

We continued to move slowly as everyone drove by another semi truck stuck in the road. Then, I saw two pickup trucks use the emergency lane to head back to Rock Springs. I made a quick decision and followed them. I probably wouldn’t have done that, but they packed down the snow enough and I figured I could make it.

After all, I had decided in the car that I just wanted to go back home. I followed them safely back to Rock Springs and was feeling a little guilty about using the emergency turn around, but I just wanted to get my son and I back home safely and I figured that was sort of an emergency. 

Yes. I know as some of you read this you will think I should’ve made different decisions, and I would agree. But it will definitely give John and I a story to talk about for many years to come and I doubt that I will ever see the interstate in that kind of shape for a very long time, if ever.

 

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