Some pranks are dangerous

Published 11:22 pm Saturday, March 3, 2007

A prank that fortunately is said not to be very common, injured a driver of a local trucking company.
The prank involves an object to be dropped from an overpass just as the unsuspecting vehicle passes under. Timed just right, it can damage the windshield and injure or kill the driver.
One local driver had milk jug believed to be filled with water smash through his windshield early in the morning of Feb. 15 at about 2:45 a.m. The incident took place at Interstate 12 mile marker 51 in Tangipahoa Parish, La., said Louisiana State Police Troop L Public Information Officer Louis Calato. Robert Brad Smith, 42, of Poplarville was driving a Peterbuilt 18 wheeler for Contract Haulers of Picayune as he passed under an overpass near Hammond, La.
Just as he was passing under that overpass he told the state police that something came through the windshield that he was unable to swerve to avoid. The report stated Smith did not know what came into the windshield to strike him. However, Frank Ford with Huey Stockstill Inc., the company that owns Contract Haulers, said he recovered the item that went through the windshield, a shattered milk jug believed to have been filled with water. The jug still carried a price tag.
“It looked like they bought it for the specific purpose of breaking windshields,” Ford said.
While Calato said he did not have a crash report since apparently no injuries were listed on the report, Ford said he personally saw the damage the jug of water did to the driver of the truck and the cab of the truck.
Ford said the jug left a 24-inch hole in the windshield and caused numerous cuts on Smith’s face from the broken glass. When taken to the hospital, Ford said the driver was in the hospital emergency room for about five hours to remove glass from his face. An optometrist told Ford that the glass could have blinded Smith. Ford said when the jug came through the windshield, it hit the driver with such force that the driver’s head struck the rear window, shattering it.
According to the trooper Ford talked to that night, there had been about four other incidents involving objects dropped from the same overpass on the same night. The tow truck driver who came to collect the 18 wheeler, which Smith was able to bring to a stop without wrecking, said that was the second incident in two weeks that left a driver incapacitated, Ford said.
“It was a miracle he was able to get pulled over without injuring himself or anyone else,” Huey Stockstill Jr. said.
Calato said there are currently no suspects in the incident and that they would be difficult to catch, unless there was already a unit in the area.
The Louisiana highway patrol spokesman said such suspects are usually long gone by the time the impacted vehicle stops. Calato said incidents like this are not very common.
“It’s not a common occurrence but I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen,” Calato said.
To Calato’s knowledge there have been no reported fatalities in his district due to objects dropped off an overpass onto to a vehicle. However, fatalities have been reported in other states, such as Ohio, due to similar incidents, according to http://www.usroads.com/journals/p/rilj/9710/ri971002.htm.
Ford said Smith returned to work Monday and is doing fine, except for some minor swelling of one eye.