Trucker Cheats Death as Trailer Hangs Off Bridge Five Stories Above Highway
The truck crashed through a concrete wall and dangled over highway five stories down.
It looked like something out of an action movie: A massive tractor-trailer dangling off an interstate bridge with the driver still inside. Thankfully, it ended like one, too. Kostas Hobitakis managed to escape his perilously balanced rig with only a few cuts and scrapes.
The experienced driver called it a "miracle," the Washington Post reported. "I was literally saved," Hobitakis said. Read on to find out how he narrowly cheated death.
An Ordinary Turn Leads to Chaos
Hobitakis was transporting about 20 tons of cardboard from West Virginia to Wisconsin on the afternoon of April 12. An Orthodox Christian, he then planned to head home to Chicago so he could celebrate Easter with family. A near-death experience wasn't on the agenda. He was about 60 miles into the 800-mile trip when he passed through South Strabane, Pennsylvania, on Interstate 79, the Washington Post reported.
At about 3:45 p.m., he braked to slow his semi-truck as he approached the curve of an overpass, but the truck kept going too fast. The truck crossed from the right lane to the left, skidding out of control.
As Truck Slid Toward the Drop, All He Could Do Was Pray
The trailer rolled onto its right side, and Hobitakis felt the truck jerk back and to the right, he told the Post. The cab where the driver was sitting followed suit, and the entire truck skidded hundreds of feet.
"Most Holy Mother of God, save me," Hobitakis prayed as the truck continued its terrifying skid. It crashed through a concrete wall and dangled over another highway five stories down. Hobitakis knew he was nowhere near out of danger.
Two Possibilities for Certain Death
The driver had one immediate fear: The trailer could fall off the bridge, pulling the cab after it. It would likely explode into a fireball, killing him instantly. But the trailer came to rest and didn't fall over the edge.
Then Hobitakis had another urgent concern: Sparks from the skid could ignite the truck's fuel tanks, causing a massive explosion.
"It Kind of Didn't Look Real"
With the cab on its side, the passenger's side window was blocked by concrete, and Hobitakis couldn't reach the driver's side window above. He rammed the windshield with his shoulder until it broke, sending him crashing out of the cab and toward safety.
After he escaped, he couldn't believe how much of the trailer was hanging off the bridge. "I'm like, 'Oh my God!'" he recounted to the Post. "It kind of didn't look real. It looked like a movie."
Although Hobitakis said he was going the speed limit, Pennsylvania State Police cited him for speeding and driving outside his lane, authorities said in a news release.
The truck is insured, and Hobitakis still has his job, but he isn't sure if he wants to keep driving trucks, Hobitakis told the news outlet. "I don't know what's next," he said.