This evening my family and I had a close brush with a serious accident. We had visited family in Greensboro, North Carolina, and had just gotten back onto I-40 East, heading towards Winston-Salem. Going about 60 mph, a large object suddenly appeared in the road. I could do nothing to avoid and, in hindsight, I am glad I did not try. There were cars on both sides of me. I hit it, and it apparently lodged under the front of the car. I drug it for about a quarter mile, sparks flying, until I could get off the side of the road. After pulling over on a soft shoulder, we felt the object go under us. We came to a stop. I was thankful the gas tank wasn't perforated or, worse, blow up, and that we did not throw the object into the path of another vehicle.
When I got out of the car, I found the object about 10 feet behind us. It appeared to be a Honda generator, certainly some type of motor, at least two to two and one-half feet tall. Wow. I looked under the car and couldn't see any leakage, or any smoke. The largely plastic front molding was torn quite a bit. We got in the car and drove about a mile to an exit where we pulled over at a convenience store. We took a better look under the car, as the car, though drivable, was making an odd noise. We noticed that a cross-beam in the undercarriage was seriously dented in, and I felt there could be other damage I could not see.
Based on this, I decided not to drive it any more. I called AAA and had it towed 4 miles to a Ford dealership. Thankfully, I had family in town. I called my stepfather and had him pick me up and take me to the airport about 3 miles away where I rented a car, drove back to the damaged car where my wife and son were waiting. The tow truck came about 1 hour 20 minutes after my call. All in all this set us back about 3 hours, but I am thankful that I was not in my Mini Cooper, that no one was hurt, and that we removed the dangerous object from the highway.
Now, I call the insurance company. Oh boy.
I don't know where the offending object came from. I did not see it fall off a truck. When I pulled over, I notice a pickup truck pulled to the side of the road with a man and a woman standing looking back a the road. I pointed out the generator to him, but he said he didn't drop it but was just stopped because he thought he saw something in the road. He left abruptly, driving away. It's possible he dropped it.
I occasionally complain about my wife driving a gas guzzling SUV, but tonight I was thankful for it. My experience makes me think twice about taking a small car on the highway. It's dangerous out there!