A Minnesota truck driver hauling a load of hot asphalt elected to send his vehicle tumbling into a ditch Wednesday afternoon when he witnessed a traffic accident occur just ahead of him. Sources familiar with the accident told Willmar, Minnesota’s West Central Tribune that the trucker’s evasive action almost certainly saved the lives of the two women who collided in his path.
According to the Tribune, Jerome Kluver is regarded as a hero locally for choosing to run his truck off the road rather than collide with the cars in his path, which likely would have spelled certain death for the occupants of the stalled vehicles.
“When you’re looking at a ditch and lake and have a load of asphalt, and you know what your reactions tell you to do, it’s a tough call,” Tim Sakry, the safety manager at Duininck Inc. told the Tribune. “He took the best route out and it wasn’t the best route for him but he wasn’t selfish and hit the ditch.”
The incident started when an 18-year-old woman driving a 1995 Ford Explorer crashed into the back of a Mercury Sable driven by a 51-year-old woman who was waiting to make a left turn onto County Road 29 near Ringo Lake, Minn. The Mercury Sable spun out into the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 71, blocking both lanes of traffic as Mr. Kluver approached.
Authorities said Mr. Kluver’s overturned truck spilled hot asphalt over the roadside and that the Mack Truck was leaking diesel fuel as well. All three drivers were taken to nearby hospitals with non life threatening injuries. Mr. Kluver received a shoulder injury while the 51-year-old woman suffered a broken hip.
Mr. Sakry told the Tribune that Mr. Kluver had more than 3 million miles of truck driving experience and was the right person to be driving the truck in that situation.
“It would have been a double-fatal collision,” Sakry told the Tribune. “(Jerome) did a heroic job with all three walking away from the accident.”