NEWS

CBC reporter on surviving a flyaway ATV

06/25/2012 12:49 EDT | Updated 08/25/2012 05:12 EDT
CBC News reporter Zach Goudie had a close call on the Trans-Canada Highway this weekend outside St. John's when an all-terrain vehicle flew off the back of the pickup truck that had been carrying it.

To his surprise, he also found that the driver was not aware that the payload had suddenly gone missing.

Goudie was driving east toward St. John's, and about 100 km outside the city limits, when he was passed by a black pickup truck that was carrying a quad.

"He had the tailgate down and one of those red straps to secure the quad in there, or so we thought," said Goudie, adding that what happened next came in a flash.

"Out of nowhere, the strap just gives way and the quad came flying out of the back of the guy's truck — whoosh, right out of the pan, boom!"

Goudie was far enough behind the pickup that he was able to brake safely and come to a stop, without having to veer off the highway. No one else was injured as other vehicles followed behind him.

"I just sat there, panting, after all this had happened. It was over in about a second and a half," he said. Moments later, he noticed that a cooler holding two sets of hip waders had also fallen off, an indication that the user had probably been fishing.

As Goudie caught his breath and moved the cooler to the side, some passersby stopped to see if assistance was required. He said the scene was light-hearted, given there were no casualties.

"It was a second away from being a very, very different scene," he said.

"Seeing as no one was hurt, it was kind of a laugh, and we were having a laugh as we waited for the driver to come back. And [then] we waited and waited."

After 15 minutes, there was no sign of the pickup driver. The group dispersed, and Goudie decided to resume his journey to St. John's. He didn't, however, see anything resembling the black pickup heading back in westbound lanes.

"I'm going to presume that eventually he did notice, and probably got a very nasty surprise," he said.

Loosened loads not uncommon

RCMP Const. Janet Austin said drivers who are transporting ATVs and other heavy equipment need to ensure that their loads are not only fastened, but held tight.

Materials coming off trucks are fairly common, she said.

"You can drive the highway every week and see debris on the highway that you know has come off of a vehicle. So it does happen more than is reported to us," she said Monday.

As for other drivers, Austin recommended keeping a good distance from trucks, "whether they have anything in the vehicle or not." She said a darting moose can pose a challenge in such traffic.

If a truck has open cargo, she said, other drivers should consider safely pulling ahead of it.

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