South Sound News

Unsecured load destroys Arlington's mom's brand new SUV

Christina Patterson of Arlington was just getting used to the brand new Ford Explorer she received as a surprise for Mother’s Day.

But on July 3rd, Patterson’s routine drive on I-5 suddenly forced her to make a blink-of-an-eye decision.

“My Smart car started beeping, telling me ‘Collision! Collision!”’ she said.

Less than a second later, Patterson’s SUV slammed into a large wooden box crate, which had just fallen from a white truck in front of her.

The explosive collision mangled the metal frame of her new SUV and ripped out part of the undercarriage as it shattered the crate.

“I just said wow! I had no idea what just happened, it was a moment like, 'Holy cow! I just hit that box,'” she said. Patterson was not hurt, but witnesses told her they were amazed she was not killed by the impact.

Witnesses told state troopers the crate--which was as tall as the hood of Patterson‘s SUV--had dropped from a truck which kept moving.

“I was very lucky,” she said. “If that crate would’ve hit the smaller car behind me, it would have killed her (the driver).”

Suddenly Patterson became much more vigilant about trucks with unsecured loads around her every day.

“It’s amazing how many I see on a daily basis,” she said, “I see unsecured loads every day from here to Everett on the freeway, I can find at least ten loads unsecured on a daily trip.”

According to the Washington State patrol, unsecured load’s cause an average of 400 crashes every year. There are statistics show roughly 12,000,000 pounds of debris tumble from cars and trucks onto Washington roads each year.

That weight is the equivalent of 4,000 SUVs.

Maria Federici was 24 in 2004, when a wooden piece of particleboard flew off the back of a rented moving trailer, sliced through her windshield and crushed her face, leaving her blind and permanently disfigured.

Until Maria’s law was passed in Olympia two years later, the driver who lost the unsecured load could not be prosecuted for causing Federici’s injuries.

Patterson says the message is clear, for the sake of other drivers and the law.

“Definitely secure your loads, because it could be your child in the car behind your truck.”

More coverage from KIRO 7