Arizona Senator Steve Smith and a campaign staffer walked away from a violent I-40 crash Sunday after a campaign appearance at a parade on the Navajo Nation.
Smith, who is running for a seat in Congress, told The Arizona Republic he was riding shotgun in an SUV driven by campaign staffer Mark Fitzgerald. They were traveling on Interstate 40 near the Arizona-New Mexico border, headed back to metro Phoenix when the vehicle hydroplaned on rain-slick roads.
Smith said he had been writing some notes when the vehicle careened into the median going about 65 mph.
“It felt like a boat hitting waves really hard,” the Republican senator from Maricopa said. “It was like, ‘Boom, then jump, then boom, then jump.’ I was for sure we were going to roll. We were heading into oncoming traffic.”
Fitzgerald, 24, turned the wheel, sending the vehicle back into their lane and into the back end of a semi-truck.
“My window is obliterated as we go into the semi, and it ripped the whole front end off, then the back end of the car smashes into the guardrail,” Smith said.
Smith, 41, posted pictures on Facebook showing the passenger side of the vehicle had caved in.
“It’s great to be alive,” Smith said. Smith credits divine intervention for their walking away from the crash.
Median barriers placed on high-speed highways can prevent cars from crossing the median and into oncoming traffic.
The typical width of a median in Arizona is 70-80 feet wide. It takes less that one second at normal highway speed to cross the median into opposing traffic.
Anything can happen on a freeway; an impaired driver, road debris or mechanical failure. Drivers in the opposing lanes of traffic are not expecting a vehicle to cross the median. A catastrophic crash can happen in an instant, affecting the people in both lanes of traffic.
Median barriers prevent 95% of cross-median crashes, saving lives. Arizona still needs median barriers on many sections of interstate highway. Arizona State Senator Steve Smith survived a median incident and thankfully no one was hurt.
The Leader Law Firm has handled several median barrier cases against the State of Arizona, resulting in multi-million dollar jury verdicts. We will continue to advocate for the addition of median barriers to Arizona’s highways.