EVERETT, Wash. — A Kirkland woman is lucky to be alive after a truck lost its load of plywood on I-5 Thursday morning near Everett, and a piece came smashing into her windshield. Another struck a second vehicle, causing minor damage to the front end.
A few inches to the left and Abby Matthaeus knows she might not be doing this interview.
"I realize that it could have been really bad if it had gone through the window or hit my side or even if the wood had been a little heavier," she said, sitting inside her Toyota Tundra at the Bellevue body shop where she had it towed.
"I just heard the shattering of the glass and then felt a shower of glass fall down on me, so all of a sudden I realized it was all over the dash and everywhere else," she says.
Even the Washington State Patrol can't believe that, remarkably, Abby is fine.
"Fortunately no one was injured, but the thing is, it could have been a very deadly incident," says Sgt. Kurt Rudeen with the Washington State Patrol.
A similar incident almost WAS deadly when Maria Federici was nearly killed by a piece of particleboard that flew off a trailer in Bellevue in 2004. That incident resulted in a change in the law; it's now a misdemeanor—not simply a traffic infraction—if your loose load causes damage or injury.
"I don't think most people realize it until it happens, and by that time it's too late," says Sgt. Rudeen of people who load their pickups or trailers without properly protecting the materials.
KIRO 7 called the Edmonds roofing company the driver who lost his load works for to find out if that was the case. The man who answered the phone hung up. When troopers caught up to the driver in Lake Stevens, though, he claimed he hadn't loaded the truck and had no idea he'd lost materials.
"I was just shocked," but not angry, says Abby. Instead she's incredibly grateful.
"Everybody said, 'Gosh you're so lucky, you could have been killed.'"
The 32-year-old driver of the truck faces charges for the unsecure load and also for driving without insurance.