In astonishment, the EMT’s moved on to the man and woman that were thrown from their motorcycle, the same motorcycle that I collided with. They were lying in the ditch and were told not to move with what seemed to be some serious injuries. The ambulance was called and would be added to the other emergency personnel that were beginning to arrive. There were so many things going on all at once, it was a blur of activity.
The driver and his wife from the RV came running to me. They were in disbelief of what had just transpired behind them in the short seconds of them noticing their RV was not running right. They were apologizing profusely for what has just happened. They were speechless and just looking around at what was before their eyes; a man and woman laying in the ditch, me standing with my friends trying to figure out where my motorcycle was, and tons of other spectators who had stopped because the Interstate was purged with all types of debris, oil and antifreeze. There were also all sorts of vehicles and motorcycles that were all frozen in their last location from trying to avoid becoming part of this disaster.
I just wanted to get out of this chaos; it was enough action for the day. I looked at my friends and said “did you see where my motorcycle went?” No, they didn’t notice because their eyes were glued on watching me fly down the Interstate and praying they would not be witnessing my death. As my friend would describe the story for years, she watched my face and my eyes and saw death pass through me. She would have many nightmares for some time.
What struck me out of my dazed thoughts were the loud shouts from surrounding people yelling to the man and woman from the RV, saying “the RV’s on fire”. They ran back some 100 feet or more to the disabled motionless RV and up the steps to gain access to their personal items. The next thing I remember seeing from a distance was items from the RV being chucked into the ditch in hopes to escape its doomed fiery inferno that was bound to happen. Clothes, coolers, bedding, bags, it all was landing in the ditch. What you could hear next was many people simultaneously yelling “it’s going to blow, get back, get back!” And just like in an action thriller movie, the RV explodes; BANG…BOOM…ROAR! There was black smoke, red hot flames, and people running towards us. The fire and the smoke were so intense that it looked like a mini atomic bomb going off. The RV was engulfed in flames and burning rapidly. Everyone was moving back and watching in amazement. Within minutes the skeletal metal framework was the only view in sight, besides the fire trucks who were now extinguishing the blaze. As for me, I’m thinking to myself “what could possibly happen next? When is this going to end?”
The South Dakota Highway Patrol has been on scene for a few minutes and begins blocking all traffic. The accident is unbelievable; smoke and fire continuing to come from the RV with fire trucks madly rushing to contain the fire so it doesn’t take off into the dry foliage of the SD ditches. Two motorcycles down and three riders involved with two sustaining possible serious injuries, and one standing, observing all her surroundings.
The Highway Patrol officers begin to assess the scene and block all west bound traffic so that clean up of the oil and antifreeze that saturated the Interstate can begin. They also start interviewing and questioning all drivers and witnesses for the details of the accident. Wow, how do you describe what just happened when words will never give it justice? Facts…facts are the words that come out of my mouth. Second by second I account the last half hour of my life. While detailing the events out loud, my mind is wondering “what just happened? You’re still alive, how can that be?”
As my friends stand by my side they fill in the holes of the story from their vantage point. Since they were about to pull off to the shoulder of the Interstate, they had a very different perspective of the events that had just happened. Crazy as it might be, my friend whipped out her camera and began taking pictures of this unbelievable circumstance. To this day, I thought she was crazy to be taking pictures. But if it weren’t for her quick reaction to start snapping pictures, I would never had been able to look back on that day to see all the details of this unbelievable story.
After standing on the shoulder of the ditch for what felt like a lifetime, realizing I wasn’t hurt, the fire was being contained, and the injured riders being loaded into the ambulance, I thought and said out loud, “where’s my husband? And where’s my motorcycle?” I was ready to leave. What else could be done here? I had been examined by EMT’s, interviewed by the SD Highway Patrol and was just standing in the middle of the Interstate thinking to myself, “well, I rode here on my motorcycle and that seems to be the only way I’m going to get out of here”. We couldn’t ride three people on our friends Harley, but I could ride on my husband’s motorcycle because I’m sure mine will be in shambles. “Where was he anyway?”