ANKENY, Iowa — The Iowa State Patrol is still trying to figure out what caused a fiery crash Sunday morning.
It happened west of the East Mixmaster. A semi-truck hauling batteries caught on fire after crashing into a ditch. A man and a woman were inside the semi and were able to escape after the driver kicked out the windshield.
The Iowa State Patrol says a white older model sedan was seen on the shoulder at the scene of the accident. It took off once troopers arrived. It’s unclear what role that vehicle played in the crash, but troopers do want to talk to the driver.
Trooper Tracy Bohlen was directing traffic after an initial accident. While he was doing that, another semi came through, lost control and sideswiped trooper Bohlen’s vehicle. Coming this close to a semi was a first for Trooper Tracy Bohlen of the Iowa State Patrol.
“I`ve been struck before on the interstate with cars and stuff like that but I haven`t been struck or been that close to an 80,000 pound semi,” Bohlen said.
It happened so fast, there was no time to react. “I saw it coming, and all I remember is in my window in the back was just all trailer, that’s all I could remember, and I tried to put my car in gear, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it in gear fast enough to get it out of the way,” Bohlen said.
Bohlen says it takes multiple patrol cars to direct traffic and slow down traffic, and his car was the last on the scene, but his car was still sideswiped. “This semi driver passed probably three or four patrol cars before he even got to me and he still struck my patrol car,” Bohlen said.
The State of Iowa even has a move over law, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles that are stopped or have their lights flashing.
“If there’s multiple law enforcement cars with lights and flashing lights and everything going on and direction arrows on their vehicles, they’re indicating there’s something ahead of them,” Bohlen said.
The driver of the semi that sideswiped Trooper Bohlen’s patrol car did receive a citation for unsafe approach of an emergency vehicle. “That total fine is $195, which doesn`t seem like a lot when you can, you know, strike a patrol car or, you know, the damage on this roughly $3,000 so a $200 fine is nothing,” Bohlen said.
Trooper Bohlen says this incident is going to take the patrol car out of service for a week, and he’s going to have to borrow a car.