Guardrail pierces cab of semi, driver uninjured

Jasmine Hall

By Jasmine Hall
Enterprise Staff Writer


A semi driver traveling west near Interstate 90’s Exit 333 was left uninjured after the cab of his rig was impaled Thursday evening. 

Dann Babcox, Park County Rural Fire District #1 fire chief, said he found the overturned semi crashed into a guardrail at I-90’s mile marker 334 during a wind advisory around 6 p.m. The accident occurred after the Montana Department of Transportation stopped diverting high profile vehicles through Livingston, he said. 

“When I got to the 333 Exit I could see headlights, one on top of the other,” Babcox recalled. “They’re usually side to side.”

Babcox said the semi was caught by a gust of wind, overturned and slid into the guardrail, which entered through the cab’s windshield on the passenger side of the vehicle. He said the driver was extremely fortunate to walk away unscathed. 

“The guardrail went through his cab,” he said adding the driver was lucky not to have a passenger in the vehicle who would have most likely been killed in the crash. “It’s one of those one-in-a-million cases where he walks away with no scratches and everything that happened should have been a very serious injury or worse.”

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Shawn Fowler said the unloaded semi was traveling about 35 mph before the crash and estimated the vehicle slid down 25 feet of guardrail “tearing a hole through” the right of the vehicle before coming to a stop.

Babcox said while reporting the incident to emergency personnel and helping the driver exit the cab through the windshield, two more semitrailers almost overturned. Babcox said that one semitrailer drove by on two side wheels before the driver jerked the trailer and placed all wheels back on the pavement.

“I was pretty amped up because we were in a really bad spot there,” he said, adding if another semi were to overturn it would have hit them. “What was going through my head was we were both going to be killed.”

In addition, Babcox said the crash site was even more dangerous with its location around a curve, giving interstate drivers little time to react and maneuver around the overturned semi. 

Fowler said MDOT had changed its reader board detouring semitrailers through Livingston to a cautionary “weather advisory” before the crash. A trooper with MHP for 15 years, Fowler said the area around mile marker 334 is notorious for overturned semis. 

“That piece of guardrail gets taken out pretty consistently every year,” Fowler said.

Babcox said he noticed MDOT reported a wind gust around 72 mph about three miles from where the accident occurred.


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