Highway terror update: Laws of physics do apply
The survival of the two teenagers involved in the April 9 runaway car incident on I-81 may still be considered miraculous, but, according to revised information from Virginia State Police today, it was more in keeping with the laws of physics. Still, as revealed in the now released 911 call the teenagers made, it was a harrowing, bizarre experience for the young drivers, one that could have been tragic for other drivers if it wasn't for the quick thinking of a state trooper.
A Virginia State Police press release on April 9, just three hours after the incident and containing information the Hook confirmed with State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, claimed the 1998 Silver Mazda Protege driven by 19-year-old Amy D. Guevara of Harrisonburg was traveling at somewhere between 100 and 110 mph when Guevara and her passenger, Sean Wies, also 19 and of Harrisonburg, leaped from the moving vehicle onto pavement, somehow surviving with only minor injuries.
Information from the troopers involved given to her on April 10, says Geller, reveals that Guevara's car was actually
in the grassy median around mile marker 217 and had slowed to between 30 and 40mph when the teens bailed, allowing their survival.
Wies jumped from the front seat of the car and was dragged a slight distance before finally being able to break free from the car, Geller says.
Once they'd exited the car, Geller now says, the vehicle re-accelerated and was headed across the median and into northbound traffic when State Trooper C.J. Aikens used his cruiser to ram the driverless Mazda and force it into the guardrail, where it stopped.
According to Geller, the police vehicles involved in the operation were not equipped with dash-cams, but a nearly 17-minute 911 call, which came in at 12:32pm, reveals the teens' increasingly urgent attempts to slow the car as they traveled from milepost 232 to 217 while maneuvering around traffic and worrying about being struck by the trucks that are a staple of the north-south I81 corridor.
"Amy, it's okay. Stay calm," says Wies, whose own voice rises only slightly on several occasions as the dispatcher offers various suggestions for slowing or stopping the car. Guevara's panic is evident in at least one scream heard on tape. The car could not be shifted into a lower gear or neutral, Wies told the dispatcher, and applying the emergency brake had little effect on the car, which continued to accelerate.
When the call begins, Wies tells the dispatcher they're traveling at approximately 50mph but are being followed closely by a truck he's concerned will strike them if they slow too suddenly. As the Mazda travels south downhill, its speed increases, although Wies says Guevara is pressing the brake. The highest speed Wies cites on the tape is 90mph, but according to Geller, the trooper who was following behind says the Mazda did top 100mph during the incident.
Trooper Aikens, who performed the maneuver that eventually stopped the car, was treated at Augusta Health and released. Wies was also treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Aikens will hold a press conference on April 11 to share further details.Read more on: runaway car