Daily Archives: April 6, 2018

A Short Trip on a Long Bridge, Part One . . .

When I recently posted the list of cars that I’ve owned, I made a comment about my 1992 Ford Ranger, and how I broke it in half on the Atchafalaya River Bridge near Breaux Bridge, LA. And a couple of our blog readers wanted to know the rest of the story.

From the middle of 1992 until 2005, I made the 700 mile trip up to Birmingham from Houston every month to look in on my mother. My father had died in January 1992 and since my mother, then 73, no longer drove, I would buy her groceries, fix things around the house, take her to appointments, etc.

I would leave Houston about 10am on Friday, stop for lunch at Mulate’s in Breaux Bridge, and then get into Birmingham around 10pm But one trip in 1994 didn’t quite work out as I had planned.

When I left Mulate’s it had started raining, not really heavy, but steady. And about 10 minutes later I was approaching the ramp onto the Atchafalaya Bridge as the rain really started coming down. In the right lane, I was being passed by a old model Lincoln with so much junk piled up in the seats I couldn’t even see the driver. Even worse he was passing me at about 1/10 mile per hour,  with a line of cars stacked up behind him.

As he finally got past me, he cut back over in front of me, so close I couldn’t even see the rear of his car, just the truck lid and the top of the continental kit, so I let off the gas to open a little space between us.

Then just at that moment I crossed over one of those metal expansion joints in the road surface, and my truck broke loose and started skidding. Later I discovered that one side of the joint was about 1-1/2” higher than the other which caused the problem, and the jolt was what caused the problem.

My first thought was to keep the truck in my lane and stay away from the vehicles that were beside me. Finally I managed to get the truck up against the concrete guard rail trying to scrub off speed. Unfortunately about this time my bumper edge caught in one of the guard rail expansion joints, ripped off my bumper, my tailgate, part of the rear bed, and my right rear wheel, tire, and part of the axle.

This also started me spinning, doing several 360’s down my lane, and slamming my head against the door pillar and the seatbelt mounting bolt, leaving me somewhat stunned. I again managed to slam the truck up against the guard rail again, but this time I as sliding in reverse, and shedding more pieces along the way.

When I finally slid to a stop there was a line of truck parts stretched out behind me as far as I could see. Several people stopped to see if I was OK and one called the police using one of the emergency call boxes along the bridge. For my part I did a quick concussion self-check, and though I had a headache I didn’t see any concussion symptoms.

The Breaux Bridge police showed up a few minutes later, followed quickly by two wreckers. One to tow the truck back to Breaux Bridge and the other to gather up all my discarded parts. The police officer said someone had wrecked in almost the same spot about a month before and had gone over the edge and into the water about 50 feet below. He said they never found the driver.

When I asked “Why?”, he just looked at me and said, “Gators.”


I rode back to the wrecker yard with the tow truck and then got a taxi to the nearby Lafayette airport so I could call Jan and then rent a car to continue my journey to Birmingham.

I’ll stop here for tonight and finish up in tomorrow’s blog.

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Stay tuned because the story’s not over yet by a long shot.

Thought for the Day:  

If you’re arguing with a women and she says, “WOW” . .  RUN!


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