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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey

All's Well That Ends Well

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

For my current work-in-progress, I have a scene in which a car slides off a highway in a snowstorm and ends up with the rear end of the vehicle in the ditch. When the driver tries to pull out of the ditch, the back tires are stuck. Fortunately, some passing motorists stop and pull the car out of the ditch.

This is based on a real-life experience that happened to me in 1979.

It was July 3, 1979, and I was home on leave from the Air Force and driving back to the Illinois Valley after having visited someone at Chanute Air Force Base.

On the way back, a severe thunderstorm hit north-central Illinois. I was driving my grandparents' car, heading north on Rt. 51. I was north of Minonk when the sky opened up. I could barely see a few feet of the car. There was no way I could continue driving in this deluge, so I pulled off the highway and wait for the storm to pass.

That's when I noticed a semi coming up behind me very fast. I had already slowed down to pull off the highway, but I had just rounded a curve and there was no place to stop. And now, I had this semi on my ass. That's when I panicked. I pulled off the highway onto the narrow shoulder, but I was still traveling too fast. At the same time, the semi passed my vehicle rocking it and splashing water on the windshield, momentarily obscuring my view of the shoulder. When I applied the brakes, the car spun around and ended up with the rear end in the ditch which was quickly filling up with water.

I tried to drive out of the ditch, but the rear tires were mired in the soft ground. There was no way I was going to get out of that ditch without someone's help.

Fortunately,a Good Samaritan stopped, actually, several long-haired rock and roll Good Samaritans, who were on their way to a rock festival in Rockford. After asking if I was okay, they assessed the situation and figured out the only way to get the car out of the ditch was to pull it out.

These Good Samaritans proceeded to direct traffic stop approaching motorists to see if anyone had chains to pull me out. Finally, one motorist did and agreed to help, but made it clear that he didn't want to be held liable if he damaged the car.

Within a matter of minutes, the motorist with the chain, hooked one end to the front bumper of my grandparents' car and the other end to the back bumper of his vehicle. He got in his vehicle and pulled my grandparents' car out of the ditch.

After a huge thank you to all the Good Samaritans we all went our separate ways.


The next day, my grandfather had to get something from the trunk. Being I had gotten home late, I didn't get around to telling him what had happened. Imagine my grandfather's surprise when he opened the trunk and found water and mud inside.

I had some explaining to do.

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