Steering wheel saves driver after steel beam crashes through windshield

The 6-foot beam fell off a flatbed truck and bounced off the freeway pavement

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A suburban Detroit man has the steering wheel of his box truck to thank for stopping a steel beam that came loose from a flatbed truck and impaled the windshield of his vehicle, shattering the glass and stopping mere inches from his chest.

Johnnie Lowe, 49, was driving the truck on Interstate 96 to Lansing on Thursday to pick up auto parts for his employer, DNC Logistics. As a flatbed ahead of him was moving into the fast lane, he said he saw something slide off the back. He then watched a 6-foot steel beam bounce off the truck’s tail end, do somersaults off the freeway pavement and close in on him.

“My life flashed before my eyes,” Lowe told the Detroit Free Press.

Lowe had the cruise control set at 65 mph when the incident happened. He said he applied the brakes, figuring in that split second that slowing down might mitigate the impact.

The windshield exploded and he heard the sound of other cars whizzing by. He managed to pull the car over to the side of the road and take stock of the situation. His body was covered in glass but without injuries, save for a piece of glass in his cheek, he told the Freep. The beam was laying perpendicular before him.

“It folded the dash and the steering wheel so the piece of steel was sitting on the lip of the dash,” Lowe told WDIV-TV.

Lowe said he thought of his three biological children and stepchildren in the moment. Police have apparently not found the driver of the truck from which the beam fell off.

It's the latest horrifying example of a vehicle being impaled while on the roads and a good reminder to those hauling things like this to secure their loads.

By Monday, Lowe was back to work, no doubt feeling lucky to be alive.

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