Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tales of the Highway Patrol, The Wreck on the Highway

State Trooper Leonard Vaughn had picked me up in the late afternoon.  It was in the early '70's.  It was a pretty non eventful time that afternoon.  He was patrolling Hwy 71 from Oak Hill out to the lake.  Dinner time came around and we decided to eat at Cowtown BBQ.  It was about 5 or 6 miles down Hamilton Pool road from Hwy 71.  It's a Mexican food restaurant now.  Sonny and Ruth Heffington owned the place.  We were about through with dinner when Leonard got a call.  It seems that there was a wreck on 2222.  Now I got to tell you that was a long ways from where we were at.  Leonard was the only State Trooper west of I-35 that night and he had to respond.  The wreck was reported as serious with mutliple injuries.  At that time, 2222 was pretty far out of the city limits.

Well I went on the ride of my life.  We tore out of Cowtown BBQ with lights and sirens.  It was just about dark, so he had his headlights on too.  Now 620 was just a 2 lane road back then and quite curvy.  Leonard was pushing that old Plymouth for all it was worth.  This old car was not in real good shape.  We had stopped earlier in Oak Hill at the County Barn and filled it up with gas.  He also had to fill it up with motor oil.  DPS was testing some of these cars with a synthetic oil and it wasn't working out too well.  When Leonard filled up with gas he also has to fill up with oil.  That car used more oil than any car that I had ever seen.

I got real quite while we were traveling down 620, cause at times I would look over at our speed and the old needle was as far to the right as it would go and that was past 120 mph.  We flew across Mansfield Dam. I had gone fast before but not for an extended period of time and at this point I was white knuckled.  Just hanging on to anything that I could grab on to. 

We got to 2222 and Leonard did not slow down.  We were flying.  Then it happened.  We topped a hill and was headed down the hill.  We used to call that hill, Tumbleweed Hill, because the steak restaurant at the top of it was named Tumbleweed.  The speedometer was buried.  Does anyone remember this hill?  At the bottom of the hill on the right heading into town was a little gravel place on the side of the road that people used as a turn around.  Remember we were going over 120 mph with lights flashing and the sirens on.  Guess what?  Somebody decided to turn around at the bottom of the hill.  Now that's a big hill and it's a long way to the bottom, but not at over 120 mph.  I remember looking at Leonard and all he said was "Oh, S$#^.  I was so brave that I covered my eyes.  Leonard kept going straight and thankfully the car at the bottom of the hill didn't stop.  We flew right beside them.  I could feel my heart beating in my fingers.  When I was finally able to talk, I told Leonard to slow down.  He did, but I think it was because it scared him too. 

We finally got to the accident and some Travis County Sheriff's were already there.  It turned out to be a minor fender bender and there were no injuries.  I rode with Leonard many times, but that was by far the scariest ride of my life.  Well that's my first story of the Highway Patrol.  My road trip at over 120 mph in a gas guzzling, oil leaking old Plymouth. 

I thought the following song was appropriate for this story.. 

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