Monday, April 30, 2007

Yuen Better Watch Out!

Today I met Yuen! He was driving this large white truck when his rear wheel blew out! When I drove by, he was by himself, pulled as far left as he could be, waving cars around his vehicle which was still 25% in the fast lane! It was a very dangerous situation!

Click here for a map.

I was cruising the right side of the viaduct, "on patrol" if you will, when I noticed him on the far left, 7 lanes over! There was no way I was going to be able to get to him, so I pulled over to the right and turned on all my blinkers and flashers and started slowly backing up. When I got across from him I motioned I was calling police and he indicated he had a friend on the way. I continued slowly backing up until I thought I had enough room to cross given a large break in traffic.

Well waiting for a large break in traffic on the viaduct at 6pm took a long time. I called 911 to try to get some traffic assistance and got my fluorescent vest out. Finally the break came and I was able to cross the 7 lanes and pull up behind him. I figured my flashers might be easier to see from a distance.

He told me about the blow out and his friend who was coming and thanked me for stopping. I took over the flag waving chores while he was able to get on the phone and start trying to solve his predicament. Soon we were waving people over together. I got on top of the zipper lane divider to be easier seen when I saw something orange by the big planters between the highways. There, placed as if God himself wanted us to have them, were 3 old traffic cones stacked and ready for duty! Thank you Lord!

I ran over and jumped the wall to the planter, which for all intents and purposes must have looked like I was jumping off a bridge! I popped right back with the cones which we immediately set up upstream from our lane. I have to admit, I felt a lot safer with those 3 old cones out. and no one tried to squeeze past us anymore!

Soon his friend arrived and they set to work on the tire. I was experimenting with different styles of waving and settled on a very authoritative snapping point to the next lane, using my fluorescent vest as a flag. That seemed to get the most response the furthest away. I didn't want it to look like a hailing "help us" flag waving either. Just wanted them to see me early and give way. There were a couple of folks who just didn't get it. They would roll to a stop right in front of us and then try to merge into the next lane of folks going 60mph! That was probably the most dangerous thing I saw.

Yuen ran up and asked me if I knew any tow truck companies. Turns out the spare the friend brought wasn't working out. I had a number in my phone for Humbug Towing. I gave them the number, but honestly don't know if they called or if Humbug could help them.

By now the sun was directly behind us and I was sure the cars were having a hard time seeing us. The drivers had to see us while nearly looking directly into the sun! Our arms were actually getting fatigued too. Waving constantly for an hour does actually get to you. I don't know how the political sign wavers do it!

The sun was getting low and the cars headlights came on. Yuen offered to wave for a while since they were just waiting for the tow truck at this point. "Where are the cops?" I thought. It had been nearly an hour since I called 911.

I went to the truck and set up my 1,000,000 candlepower spot light. When cars were approaching in our lane at nearly a half mile away, I would sweep the tight beam up and down the lane, creating a flashing effect to the cars approaching. When the lane was clear I would just point the beam down. It seemed to work well because the cars were moving over much farther away.

FINALLY 2 police cruisers arrived with all their blue lights and flashing white strobes and blocked off our lane. They looked like the cavalry coming to our rescue, and I felt safe and a little silly there with my little orange flasher and my hand-held spotlight. There was really nothing else I could do at that point, so I gave Yuen my blog card and shook his hand. He was very very grateful and he thanked me very much. I also gave a card to his friend and then got back in my truck.

First thing I noticed was the gas light! I had left the car idling for nearly an hour to operate the lights and I had forgotten that I was very low on fuel. Yikes! Fortunately, I had no problem getting to a station for a couple of gallons, and I did have a gallon in the back for a self rescue if I needed to use it.

This was definitely the longest and most interesting roadside rescue so far, and I certainly hope that Yuen and his friend check in here and tell a little of their side of the story!

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