WAYNE CITY, Ill. (KFVS) - Illinois State Police called it a “miracle on ice.” Dashcam video showed two troopers and a husband and wife who came within inches of being hit by a box truck on an icy road.
According to ISP, it was during an ice storm on November 12. Troopers were helping a stranded motorist by changing her tire on Interstate 64 at milepost 101 near Wayne City when they came within inches of losing their lives.
Peggy and Wilbur Vaught remember that cold morning of all too well.
“You know it was one of the coldest mornings we had had," she said. “Bless the officers for being out in that weather to start with.”
Mr. Vaught felt as if he should have trusted his gut.
“It was icy that day and we had talked about maybe turning around and going back,” he said.
That Tuesday, the couple left their home in Fairfield, IL to head to an appointment at the Marion VA Medical Center. The Vaught’s hadn’t traveled very far when they ran into trouble.
“We hit an ice patch, and spun around and slid off in a ditch. And someone behind us had called the state police for help," Mrs. Vaught said.
A tow truck driver pulled the Vault’s SUV to safety. However, they could not drive because they had a flat.
Illinois State Police arrived to help change that tire. Mr. Vault was inside the vehicle and Mrs. Vault standing on the shoulder of the highway.
The box truck was going westbound on I-64 when it lost control on the ice-covered pavement. It hit the Mercury Mountaineer before overturning onto the grassy shoulder of the interstate.
Trooper Adam Zimmerman described his recollection of those seconds. “While I was talking to Mrs. Vault, I was looking over her shoulder into the oncoming traffic and I noticed the box truck start to lose control, you hear me start yelling at that point I’m trying to figure out if we want to move, if the vehicle was going to slide off in front of us or if we want to stay put.”
Both troopers and the woman were outside of the Mountaineer at the time of the crash and were forced to run away from the interstate and down an embankment to avoid being hit.
Mr. Vaught was sitting in the car when he heard the officer start to say ‘lookout’ or something. “I glanced around like that and it was all too late, all I saw was the truck coming at me lying down,” he said.
In the video, you can hear the troopers yell “Watch out” and pull the woman out of the way.
Fortunately, they said she was down in the ditch line as the box truck passed over the top of her and barely missed the two troopers.
Neither trooper was injured, as well as a passenger in the Mountaineer at the time of the crash.
Trooper Jonathan Pflaum had only been on the job for nine days and was technically supposed to be a training. “It all kind of happened in slow motion and when it was done, there was that millisecond of 'OK, I’m still here...umm I get to see my wife and kid tonight.’”
Trooper Zimmerman says when he got home, he heard this from his own kids. “Dad we said an extra prayer for you last night, we all got together and said an extra prayer because you’re out there in the weather and we want to make sure you are safe,” Zimmerman said.
The Vaught’s tell me they believe that prayer was answered. “God was watching out for us...he saved all of us that day,” she said.
Mrs. Vaught was injured as a result of the crash and taken to an area hospital. According to ISP, she was treated and released. She said she’s thankful it was only a broken arm.
The Department said while this was not a Scott’s law violation because the box truck driver had already moved over to the left lane, he was not slowing due to caution as he proceeded past the scene.
The driver of the Mitsubishi box truck, Shi Jinglin, 41, of Flushing, New York, was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Wayne City Fire Department, Wayne City Ambulance Service and Rickl’s Towing (Grayville and Fairfield) assisted at the crash scene.