Truck Driver Hailed as Hero For Choosing Crash Over Collision

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/13/2014

A semi-truck driver is being hailed as a hero after he slammed his rig into an I-5 Jersey barrier to avoid hitting a pair of motorcyclists. Ashton Hoopes had been driving the I-5 Monday morning, heading southbound toward Kent with a load full of dirt when he said a Volvo cut him off and left him with nowhere to go. He made a split second decision to avoid hitting two motorcyclists ahead of him and crashed into the median instead.

Dirt crash

Hoopes is an Army reservist and said he went into combat mode during the wreck and also believes he experienced a true miracle that no one else was hurt and he was able to walk away from fiery crash with only a separated shoulder. "I was like, here is my only choice, to hit the Jersey barricade so I don't hit anybody. The first thing that flashed through my mind was my lovely, beautiful woman and our little boy. (I said) let me make it through here," Hoopes said.

That split-second decision sent his 90,000-pound rig into the concrete barrier, causing his truck to overturn, losing its load and sending up a wall of dirt. The impact triggered massive flames in the cab with Hoopes still inside. But his panic was not about himself; he was thinking that his truck had clipped a nearby motorcyclist. He immediately kicked open the cab door and went looking for the biker. He encountered a man and asked, "Did you see a guy on a bike?' The man replied,' “It was me. Thank you. If you hadn't hit the wall, I would be dead.”

"I was just thankful," Hoopes said.

The wreck blocked I-5 for more than three hours, and traffic at times was backed up for up to seven miles. While police are now searching for the silver Volvo that may have triggered the wreck, Hoopes said this would likely be his last call in the big rig. It was undetermined whether this incident triggered the decision.

While large trucks like big rigs, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers account for over 25% of the deaths in multiple vehicle traffic accidents, truck drivers in most cases walk away unharmed. Perhaps Hoopes made his decision aware that truck drivers have the lowest chance of meeting an untimely demise in the seat behind the wheel of a big rig, as opposed to motorcycles being the single most dangerous method of transportation.