So, I got to spend 3 hours sitting alone with my wife on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, it was after the I-80 multi-car pileup that occurred around noon on Sunday. We had spent the weekend in Chicago, and knew that we would have to contend with a storm on the way back home. And oh-so-close to home we were... when it happened! Multiple incidents happened around the 254 mile marker in the westbound lane of I-80, near West Branch. And my wife and I were right in the middle of all the fun... and we have the dented up right rear bumper to show for it.

Several news outlets reported "several multi-car accidents". Here's what it was like for me... I will start by saying that I felt I-80 was in pretty condition. We were driving slower than the speed limit, but it was by no means a crawling pace. We saw several plows out during the storm, and I felt there was always at least one really good lane to travel in. I was in the left lane when my wife and I noticed brake lights and cars slowing down ahead of us. It was clear that something not good had happened up ahead.  I was able to apply my brakes and coast up to the vehicles ahead of us that were sitting stationery. That's when two vehicles came zooming by to my left, on the shoulder. They were obviously unable to stop and trying to avoid smashing into my trunk. That's when I looked up and saw a red car in my rear view mirror moving at a pretty good clip. He had nowhere to go. There were the cars to the left of me on the shoulder. There were cars to my right not moving. It was at that point that I let out an expletive because I knew we were in for some contact.

We were actually very lucky. The red car attempted to miss me by swerving right, but he clipped my right bumper (yes, Winter Trip #2 to the body shop for good ol' Bill is on the way). He then smashed hard into two more vehicles, causing major front-end damage. Thankfully, everybody involved in our 4-vehicle game of bumper cars was ok.

Here's what the red car looked like after his wild ride...

Photo: Bill Hahn

It felt like a really bad day at Daytona International Speedway. I agree with statements that I saw attributed to the State Patrol. People were travelling too fast and following other vehicles too closely in winter conditions. As I write this, I do not know about any fatalities. The State Trooper that I talked to was rather impatient and stern, but he apologized for his pointed communication saying it had been a long couple of hours, including having to get a person out of a vehicle that had been pinned in. Mr. State Trooper, no apologies necessary. It was a long day for everybody stuck on that stretch of I-80 on Sunday afternoon.

Here's the long line of westbound traffic that formed behind us...

Photo: Bill Hahn

Here was a common scene on I-80 Sunday...

Photo: Bill Hahn

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