In Harm's Way

It was a like a movie. A horrible movie.

When Ricky Williams stopped his rig on a California highway, and he and his wife Connie raced to help victims of a four-wheel rollover, a nightmare scene unfolded around them. Connie Williams of Titusville, Fla., said she felt like she and Ricky had stepped into a violent movie that day.

The chaos began in early morning darkness near Porterville, Calif. Connie and Ricky, who have been traveling together for seven years, were rolling along when Ricky saw a vehicle veer out of control, roll and land upside down in the middle of the road. Ricky shouted to his wife, who was back in the cab, and asked her to dial 911 while he pulled over and ran to help.

Ricky found a hysterical female driver, who appeared to have minor injuries, and one passenger, the driver’s father, who had a severe head laceration but was conscious. Working quickly to stop the bleeding, Ricky wrapped the man’s head with shirts he had found in the wreck, then covered him with a jacket. He also did his best to calm the daughter who was screaming that it was her fault that her father was hurt.

A number of truckers and other motorists stopped to help Ricky, who was also trying to keep one lane of traffic open. Suddenly Connie saw two cars speed around the parked tractor-trailers into the open lane. When their drivers saw the accident, they hit their brakes, causing one car to slam into the other. Seven people were in these two vehicles, and three of them were injured.

Connie called 911 for the second time in minutes. Two lanes of trucks were now maneuvered to try and block traffic and prevent any more disaster. “I used my flashlight to try to slow traffic down,” Ricky said, “because I was worried about someone coming around the parked trucks. My main concern was trying to keep everyone off the highway.”

But the mayhem wasn’t over. Another car, oblivious to the stopped traffic, was speeding toward them.

“This guy tried to pass around the trucks, then he slammed on his brakes, turned sideways, and went between the people in the road into the ditch,” Connie said. “The only way he avoided hitting people was by turning into the ditch. Then he hit a mound of dirt and flipped and rolled about five times. I’ve never seen a vehicle go so high when rolling over.”

The driver was ejected from the vehicle. Fortunately, several emergency vehicles arrived at the scene after this.

“I can’t tell you how I felt seeing this happen,” Connie said. “I was so helpless. It was like watching a movie

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