Any collision involving a semi-truck can have serious consequences. When the other party is a pedestrian, however, the aftermath can be especially deadly. On Tuesday near Cape Girardeau, a pedestrian was struck by a tractor trailer on the interstate. The incident was further complicated by a discovery made by medical personnel after the victim was taken to a local hospital: he had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face before the truck hit him.
The collision happened Tuesday morning on Interstate 55 (near mile marker 90) at around 9:00 a.m. According to the Southeast Missourian, the victim (who has not yet been identified) had gotten out of his truck and attempted to cross the highway when he was struck by an eighteen wheeler. By all accounts, the truck driver took every possible action to avoid the collision, nearly rolling his truck in the process.
Police and EMTs responded: the victim was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where it was discovered that he had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face immediately before exiting his vehicle. He was then transported to a St. Louis hospital, where he is listed in serious condition with life-threatening injuries. Local police are investigating the incident as an attempted suicide, but they have declined to provide specific details, out of consideration to the victim's family. Police are also declining to comment on whether or not the victim may have walked into traffic intentionally.
While we don't have all the details about this particular incident, we do know that pedestrian fatalities on interstates and other highways are becoming more and more prevalent. Sometimes, drivers leave their vehicles after a minor collision, break down, or other incident, and then find themselves walking on busy roadways. Since other motorists don't usually expect to see pedestrians on highways, it's becoming disturbingly common for collisions to occur under these circumstances.
Here are a few safety tips to consider, should you ever find yourself in this situation:
• If your car becomes disabled on the highway, pull as far onto the right shoulder as possible. Lock the doors.
• If you know you need medical or mechanical assistance, use your cell phone to call the appropriate parties as soon as possible.
• Make yourself visible in the meantime. Safety advocates recommend turning on your interior lights (particularly if it's nighttime), so that it's easier for other motorists to see you. (If your engine is still operable, leave it running so the lights don't kill your battery.) You can also raise your hood or tie a piece of fabric to your radio antenna to signal other drivers.
• If you have a flat tire, don't try to change it unless you can do so safely without being too close to traffic.
• If your car can't be moved, don't just jump out! As Dummies.com points out, "Sitting in a dead vehicle with traffic piling up behind you is unnerving, but attempting to cross a high-speed freeway on foot is suicide." The National Safety Council offers a final basic tip:
"It is inadvisable to walk on an interstate, especially during inclement weather. However, if you can reach a source of help on foot, without jeopardizing your physical or personal safety, try the direct approach by walking. Keep as far from traffic as possible and walk on the right side of the roadway. Never attempt to cross a multi-lane, high speed roadway."
Information provided courtesy of Aaron Sachs and Associates.
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