Sandy’s eyes were closed, her head nestled in the soft leather of the front passenger seat as I guided the Escalade swiftly and smoothly toward Dallas from Little Rock on I-30 Tuesday evening. The cruise control was set at 75 and, having occupied the passing lane for many miles, the big SUV drifted effortlessly past an unending queue of mostly trucks that were growling along in the right lane. Using the remote control on the steering wheel, I skipped from one favorite preset on the XM radio to the next, not thinking about much of anything except how many bugs had given their lives as they collided with the windshield for the last couple of hundred miles.
Suddenly, I noticed far ahead a set of flashing red and blue emergency lights in one of the oncoming lanes. Instinctively, I pressed the cruise cancel button on the left side of the steering wheel and allowed the car to slow slightly. As the lights drew closer, I was able to discern their attachment to the roof of a black and white state police cruiser with the familiar gold symbol of the state of Texas on the door. Without warning, the oncoming trooper braked hard and made a skidding left turn onto the grassy median and into my lane, stopping crossways in front of me and the 18-wheeler beside me in the right lane. Fortunately, the distance was sufficient for me to bring the Escalade to a safe stop, but the Kenworth alongside headed for the right shoulder as he stood on his squalling brakes. I could see the headlights of other vehicles behind me as they dipped or skewed to either side of the roadway, the drivers in both lanes fighting to avoid collision with the stopped vehicles ahead of them.
I couldn’t imagine what had caused the trooper to execute this dangerous maneuver—that is, until I looked up, horrified, as two headlights suddenly appeared directly ahead, on the other side of the cruiser, coming toward the now motionless lines of vehicles. The lights quickly grew larger and brighter, indicating the wrong-way driver was closing the distance at a very high rate of speed and in MY LANE! I glanced over at Sandy, who had awakened by now, and I only heard myself shout, “Look…!” as the black BMW roared past on my left, missing the police cruiser and our car only by inches as the driver edged over to the shoulder. I don’t know what I was trying to say to Sandy…maybe “Look Out!” I still don’t know.
After the BMW passed, the trooper gunned his engine and sped off to our right, across a grassy embankment and onto the service road parallel to the Interstate, flashing his headlights and doing all he could to warn other drivers behind us of the danger. I noticed in the rear view mirror that he was being joined by other patrol units as another two sets of flashing lights appeared in the distant darkness.
It took a few moments for the Kenworth driver and me to collect our thoughts and slowly begin to drive forward. We knew that things might have turned out very differently had it not been for the trooper who willingly placed himself in harm’s way between our car and the speeding BMW. The lawman obviously had no inkling of the wrong-way driver’s mindset; for all he knew, this could be someone too drunk to avoid a collision or a lunatic in a suicide attempt. Yet, the trooper sat there, motionless, as the glare of the BMW’s headlights outlined ever more starkly his silhouette at the cruiser’s steering wheel. Had there been a collision, the cruiser would certainly have been totaled and the survival of the trooper definitely in question.
I don’t know the ultimate outcome of the chase, but I’m pretty sure things got ugly when the BMW was finally stopped. I hope no one was injured by this madman. I so wish I could have thanked the trooper for his bravery. Were it not for him, I might not be writing this, and Sandy might not be able to continue spoiling our grandson, as she feels is her calling. (Not mine, of course.)
This unknown brave trooper is now in our prayers; we’re counting on God to bless him. Where do we get such heroes?