Pat Finley on catastrophic California accident: ‘A Monday I should have stayed in bed’

Updated Oct 11, 2015
Pat Finley accident scene

I didn’t have a dashcam, but if I did it would have been destroyed with the brand-new 2015 Peterbilt. Some kid in a Honda Civic was flying by in the opposite direction (two-lane road) when he must have got off on the shoulder or too close to the ditch and overcorrected. I was WB and he was EB. He came flying straight into my left side, just behind the cab, knocking out my air tank. With a guard rail on my right, there was not much swerving. As I started to fly to the left into the oncoming lane, I stepped on the service brake only to have it go right to the floor. Thank God no one else was behind him or I may have killed them head on. I could not even see where I was headed — only saw thick white turbo steam from the engine.

If you’ve ever had a turbo go out you know how thick it is and was coming from the engine compartment and completely blinding, covering the entire windshield view, nothing but white. I had to hit the ditch and hill on the opposite side of the road to stop. With the impact of 80,000 lbs. (hauling two trailers of rock) and going down an incline, the truck immediately caught fire just behind the firewall. I had a couple feet to open my door before the hill stopped the door, got out, walked around the back, but by the time I got around in through the passenger door, things were melting, and smoke was getting thick, and the hillside was on fire. (All dry grass — California has been in drought for four years.) After walking back up the road, happy (sort of) to see a few witnesses eager to take my side, I looked back and the engine was sitting about 30 feet in front of the truck.

That was a Monday I should have stayed in bed. I’ve been off on workers’ comp for nearly two months, but fine. The kid is somewhat OK too — until he sees his insurance, that is.

Read the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s story, in addition to the video shot by a reporter above, about Pat Finley’s accident via this link.

Click here to view Dashcam Central videos.

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