MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Rafael Rodriguez’s trip home from work started out routine last Thursday. Then, suddenly it “felt like there was an explosion," he recalled.
Faced with some quick thinking while traffic on his left was whizzing by, Rodriguez realized soon enough what had struck his Cadillac with such force it created sparks, alarm and, in the end, $2,200 worth of damage to the exhaust system.
“I had a higher power with me. God helped do what I needed to do. I was very lucky," he explained. “This is exactly what I pulled out underneath, and it’s a pretty heavy piece of equipment. The other thing I thought of this can be prevented you gotta make sure they’re secure,” Rodriguez added.
He pulled a heavy-duty, steel trailer hitch with a three ball-point from under his car. Rodriguez says work truck of some type was in front of him that lost its trailer hitch. He doubts the driver ever realized it.
Today, Rodriguez’s Cadillac sits in a car repair shop yard waiting to get fixed.
Alabama State Troopers say road debris is not all that uncommon, especially with so many more people on the road today.
One recent study by AAA showed road debris accounted for 200,000 accidents across the country between 2011 and 2014. Over 500 people died as a result, and another 39,000 were injured.
Some things to think about while you’re driving; drive defensively, allow extra time for traffic congestion, and don’t follow too closely.
Rodriguez shudders at what could’ve happened. The trailer hitch, all 25 pounds of it, could have struck his windshield and that could have easily turned out to be an entirely different story.
“Property can be replaced. I’m just glad it happened to me and not someone else. It could have been a mother with young children or a teenager,” said Rodriguez.
It was a jarring experience, and one for the road to remember.