Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Washer causes four-car pileup

Washer causes four-car pileup

By Kyle O'Reilly

William Delano was driving to Omaha to see his sister, Brooke, play volleyball for the Huskers at the Qwest Center Omaha, but a poorly secured washing machine bumped those plans.

About 6 p.m. on West Dodge Road near 230th Street, a Whirlpool washing machine came loose from a trailer, witnesses said, causing a four-car pileup on a bridge over the Elkhorn River.

Delano's green Mercury Sable was the second car hit.

The crash closed off both lanes of eastbound Dodge, which eventually caused another four-vehicle crash about a quarter mile to the west, authorities said.

"Traffic was backed up, and somebody couldn't stop in time,” said Sgt. Rob Jones of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
No one was seriously injured in either crash, authorities said.

The first crash started when the washing machine fell off a trailer being pulled by a pickup that fled the scene, Jones said.

The first car swerved and nicked the washer. Delano's Sable hit the washer head-on. The third car rear-ended his and made a wall across both lanes, leaving the fourth car with no place to go and leaving him rear-ended again — by the same car.

“I was coming down the road when I saw the other car swerve and there was a car to my right, so there was nothing I could do,” said Delano, 22, a Wayne State College senior. “I just braced my wheel and hoped for the best. I'm lucky I didn't get knocked off the bridge.”

All four drivers were wearing seat belts, and no one was hurt.

The second set of accidents involved minor injuries as one person was transported to Lakeside Hospital as a precaution.

Authorities late Friday were still searching for the pickup driver who fled. They were checking the history of the washing machine, based on its serial number.

“I'm sure he'll read the paper tomorrow and say, ‘Glad I didn't stop for that one,'” Jones said of the pickup driver.

Instead, Jones said, the driver will likely be ticketed for improperly securing a load and leaving the scene of an accident.

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