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Near miss moments

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  • Near miss moments

    We’ve all had them, those times when something that could have been tragic pops up out of nowhere, ends up being no big deal but is something you’ll never really forget.

    The Kid is working for the company this summer and helps my boss regularly, last week they were replacing a broken leaf spring on one of the bobtails (tank trucks). They had the back end sitting on proper jack stands under the frame with the left rear wheel on the ground and the right side of the axle supported with a jack so they could raise or lower it to the correct height and keep the tension neutral while they were taking stuff apart. They had removed a few nuts and needed a different sized socket so had stepped back away from the truck when the upper part of the right side jack stand actually broke in two. The GVRW of the rig is about 30,000 lbs with much of it on the back half when loaded so you can imagine how hard the right rear hit the floor. Neither of them had actually been directly under that part of the truck at any point but my boss said it was scary as heck. Near as he can figure there must have been some side tension on the stand from the jack being under the axle. Fortunately no one was hurt and no further damage occurred to the truck. They got it back up and finished the job without further incident.

    I’ve had a few of those moments running machinery, a couple years ago I hit something hard with the Bush Hog which snapped a blade off. It cut through the front of the deck then bounced off a rear tire and flew through the air about 50 feet.

    Two separate incidents convinced me that motorcycles probably weren’t in my best interest.

    Last but not least was a mostly dead pine tree my dad wanted down on some property he’d bought to build a house on. There was nothing around it and I’d been doing tree work for a few years so figured I could handle it. The thing was better than three foot in diameter and probably 75 feet tall. I didn’t have felling wedges and ended up dropping it 180* from where I was trying to. Ooops.

    Anybody else want to share something that still gives them the chills thinking about it even though it turned out ok in the end?

    P.S. Later on my boss half jokingly warned the Kid to be careful what he told his mother or she might have him selling ice cream cones the rest of the summer. We still haven’t said anything to her.

  • #2
    I'm not going to write the stories here and now but I've seen fingers, hands, and feet cut and or ripped off. Helped recover a person crushed by a machine, basically pulled/pushed him through a space 2" wide. When there is a lockout tag/lock on a machines power source don't touch the damn thing. Even if maintainence was too stupid and lazy to shut the lock. Seen people horribly burned and smashed as well. Asphyxiated using MEK to clean the inside of a holding tank. Don't wear jewelry on an assembly line when the sign says NO JEWELRY. When I was in school I had friends drown, my best friend crushed when his tractor hit a loose embankment and rolled over on him, crushing him. Then there were teenage friends killed in car and motorcycle wrecks. Those were a blast as during my senior year I worked for a funeral parlor. On a side note, they also owned a furniture store. One day I delivered a chair to the home of the head cheerleader/valedictorian. No one was home and she greeted me at the door in only a little pink teddy.
    Hauling a pickup loaded with wood back over a frozen lake was a hoot. Fishing off a railroad trestle and picking up our gear and running like hell at the last instant to jump out of the way every time a train came was extra cool if you were fighting a fish at the time. Been shot a couple times, stabbed once, but you know, pretty typical Michigan mid70's teenage stuff. Oh, I've got lots more.😉👍


    • #3

      Clutch went out in our car. A 75 Chevelle Malibu.
      It had "three on the tree"!
      Tried to make it to the farm where I had ramps but the clutch was just too far gone. Got back home and got it jacked up and blocked. Didn't like it, but I had to do what I had to do.
      Break down wasn't bad. I could actually lay on my back and manhandle the little 3 speed tranny out and back in.
      Got the bolts started but the tranny just did not want to slide into place.
      It's hot.
      I'm tired.
      I'm frustrated.
      So I gave the tranny a "shove" ......then realized I'd shoved the whole car forward and it was rolling off the cinder blocks it was sitting on!
      No time to get out so I rolled flat on my back and prayed!
      The car fell to it's normal street height, mashing my chest down. I had on overalls and a smoking pipe in the bib pocket. THAT was boring into my chest!
      Miracle #1) My wife was helping and was able to get out before the car fell.
      Miracle #2) the cinder block jammed between the front wheel and the body so the car couldn't roll off the slab.
      Miracle #3) there was enough pressure on my chest, I couldn't breathe. I was able to flex my gluteus maximus enough to allow me to breathe "more easily"
      Miracle #4) my wife knew how to work the jack and was able to get the car up off of me
      Miracle #5) my 98 pound wife was able to drag my 210 pound carcass out from under the car. ...once she got the car jacked back up.

      Other than my sternum being extremely sore where the car shoved the pipe into it, I was unhurt.
      I had to work the next day.
      Landing drill pipe with a bruised chest was (ahem!) problematic! 😩!

      Returning to Texas after a visit with the wife's folks, we were cruising down IH35 just north of Waco, Texas!
      Mind you, this was pre "kids in car seats" Texas! The eldest (3.5 yo) was standing beside me, arm on my shoulder. The youngest (18 mths) was sitting in mom's lap. Late afternoon. It was cool, windows down and me and the kids were singing to the top of our lungs, having a big time.

      A semi load of electrical conduit on a flatbed passed us. As he signaled to move back over in front of us, his right rear trailer duals hit a 16 oz glass Coke bottle about 2/3's full* lying in the road.
      The rear duals just clipped the neck of the bottle, flipping it into the air! The bottle, spinning like a top smacked into our windshield with enough energy to absolutely shatter the windshield plus punch a hole in the windshield!
      It coated everything in the cab with a shower of glass shards.

      A visit to the hospital in Waco for x-rays and not one single particle of glass in anyone's eyes!
      Talk about a, "PHEW"!
      Apparently, everybody's blink reflex was on high alert!

      The remaining 75 mile drive home was with a 65mph wind hitting me in the face through the hole on the windshield!

      * how a glass Coke bottle ended up out in the middle of afternoon traffic on IH35, I have no idea?
      Yes, it was a Coke bottle.
      Yes, it was about 2/3's full.
      I stared at it hard the full 1.2 nanoseconds from launch to impact. It's laser etched on my brain and it's been nearly 40 years ago! LOL!
      Last edited by FirstBubba; 07-01-2021, 08:02 PM.


      • #4
        dewman, didn't work in a funeral home, but I did spend a summer (1965) working for a great uncle mowing in a cemetery as part of the maintenance crew.
        When a funeral was scheduled, we had orders to "stay out of sight"!
        The first funeral was a 3 month old who died of SIDS. I knew the family.
        When the last car left, old Unc called us over to backfill the grave. We did it with shovels! No machines!
        About half full, old Unc kicks me off in the grave and says, "Pack it down!"
        I almost had heart failure, pooped and threw up all at the same time. Unc recognized the reluctance and said, "Somebody's gotta do it!"
        I started out moving like a soldier picking his way through a mine field. When I got through, I was moving like a hamster on a speed wheel! LOL!


        • #5
          Dewman, I spent about ten years as a very active volunteer fireman into my early thirties. The FD averaged about 100 calls per year, not including ambulance runs. I’d probably still be doing it except for the politics and family life. Might sign back up after the kids fly the nest but there’s some stuff I’d rather not experience again.

          I think there are more “that could have been bad” moments in life than there are “that could have been worse”. Thing is we tend to forget the near misses.


          • #6
            FB, I’ve mentioned before my maternal grandfather being killed when my mom was four years old. My grandparents were returning home after a long Labor Day weekend out of state with my grandfather’s cousin and his wife to visit some other relatives. Story goes that a large stone was kicked up by the duals of a truck in front which came through the windshield hitting my grandfather who was driving. They think he was dead before crashing the car. Some claim however that someone may have thrown the rock at the truck as there was a trucker’s strike happening at the time. That was never proven. My grandmother lost an eye in the crash but the cousin and his wife weren’t hurt seriously. The cousin and wife owned the farm my wife and I now call home.

            It kinda messed with some in our family after our Canada wreck since the Kid, my cousin and I were all involved returning from an out of state trip on Labor Day weekend as well. That definitely was a “it could have been worse” deal, even as bad as it was.


            • #7
              fitch270, what's REALLY scary is the close calls we've ALL had and had no idea just how close the grim reaper was as we blithely strolled away down life's highway. Oblivious to what just happened.


              • #8
                Going down an expressway a Semi coming from opposite had a drive wheel duel lock up and he had been dragging it so the tires were on fire. Road was a little wet so in the spray he did not see the smoke and fire. The axel broke off and the tires, drum and axel all came bouncing across the grass median like the way a football bounces. It passed my lane, went to the exit on my right side and hit the guard rail and bounced back into traffic. All of a sudden real estate got real expensive. Cars went everywhere trying to estimate it's path and get out of the way. Well I had no where to go - it took the last bounce and I could see it was coming down on my right front fender. When I saw it coming I was afraid the axel would come in like a spear. I went under the dash and the force of the tires/drum pushed my brand new (750 miles) chev caprice station wagon into the grassy median which slowed me to a stop. If I was in a little car like there are today I might be dead. The insurance came within $1,000 of totaling the brand new car. It was fixed properly and I went on to put hundreds of thousand mile on it and I sold it and it ran all the way to 400 thousand miles. last I heard. People tell me the tires plus drum, brakes and axel would weigh over 1,000 lbs. I was very lucky that day.


                • #9
                  I have 3 brothers, all of us born with the hold this while I do this attitude. During the spring thaw we would ride the broken up ice chunks down the swollen rivers like surfboards. Summer floods saw us riding chunks of uprooted or fallen trees. Got trapped under water in debris a couple times but water pressure popped me free. Took a couple of friends drowning to make us stop. Remember the movie "Teen Wolf?" Yep we roof surfed too. More fun on gravel, slower, but more twists and turns. Then we got motorcycles! That's when the E.R. room visits started going up. Looking back it seems mom cried a lot, then our first wives. Yes we got our asses beat, sometimes with belts or cords ripped off of lamps. Never learned. Every time we get together now or run into old friends it takes about one beer before "How the hell are you still alive?" Comes up. What the hell. All us boys have some really cool pictures.
                  The payback came when we would jump our boys on the stupid crap they were pulling. Mom or Grandadparents would jump in with story after story of our dumdassery (grandad term) and put a kibosh on any discipline.


                  • #10
                    Like everyone else, there's been several close calls. But there's only three that still give me the chills.

                    The first two occurred when I worked as a supervisor on the casting floor of a McWane pipe foundry. (See video below) For each casting machine, there are two ladles of 2500 degF molten iron. The machine operator made a mistake and I narrowly missed being covered with iron when a ladle was knocked over. A week later, the overhead crane operator, while lifting the large pipe hooks, double-blocked and snapped the cable. The heavy hooks fell 10 feet from me and bounced the other way. I had to sit for a few minutes to regain my composure. I quit the next day. By far, that was the most dangerous job I've ever had - including logging and coal mining.

                    The third instance was that accidental firing of the Remington 788 that I've mentioned before. That took 15 minutes of sitting on the logging road to stop the shakes.


                    • #11
                      PH; Amazing the machinery out there that people have no idea exists. Thanks for the clip.

                      Side note, a local couple lost their home and everything in it last night to a fire. The guy works in my wife’s department at work, my sister and her husband used to be his neighbors. Smoke alarms woke them up about 3:30 am but the house was already warm and smoke filled. They live a fair ways out of town and by the time the FD rolled up flames were already coming out of the roof. The wife grabbed her phone and car keys on the way out. He has COPD from smoking and ended up in the burn unit of a major hospital from complications with smoke inhalation. Expected he’ll be out tomorrow but that facility was best set up to treat him just in case.

                      My wife had today off, she ended up checking in at work and picked up a collection that had been started. She found out their clothing sizes and picked out some basic apparel from two local thrift outlets that they donated, then bought new personal clothing and effects from a store in town that carries some of that stuff. When she was finished she delivered the items and the rest of the money to the wife.

                      The guy isn’t much bigger than me, when things settle down for them I’m going to have my wife check to see what he might need for hunting clothes or gear, I have some stuff that he should be able to use if he wants it. Short term there’s no point in burdening them with stuff they don’t have a place for.

                      Stay safe guys.


                      • #12
                        Wow! That's tough fitch270!
                        Glad they both got out ok.


                        • #13
                          I think we are all old enough here to know that we are always one bad decision, poor timing, or just plain dumb luck clock tic away from catastrophe. Good to remember that when we are around others. Staying right with the Lord would be a handy thing to be as well. If you really NEED one, buy 2. And as always stay safe


                          • #14
                            I'm firmly convinced a life lived just for one's self is hollow. Kudos for y'all helping out. It's the right thing to do.




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