DPS: Driver of semi in terrifying metal cargo wreck to be cited

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(Source: 3TV/CBS5) (Source: 3TV/CBS5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The driver of a semi-truck carrying sheets of metal that smashed through the window of an SUV earlier this month will be cited.

According to Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Kameron Lee, the citation falls under Arizona Revised Statutes §28-935, which requires red lights or lanterns and reflectors on both sides of any load extending more than 4 feet from the carrier vehicle.

The wreck happened early in the morning on Thursday, March 9, and could have cost Philip Roklen, the driver of the SUV, his life.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Metal cargo smashes through SUV's windshield]

Roklen apparently rear-ended the semi on southbound Interstate 17 between Glendale Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Some of the corrugated metal sheets the semi was hauling went all of the way though Roklen’s windshield to the driver’s side headrest.

Roklen suffered a serious eye injury but was otherwise unharmed, much to the amazement of everyone who responded to the scene.

"The guy should buy a lottery ticket, definitely. Or say a whole lot of prayers his God. He's very lucky to be alive," said Matthew Hall of Valley Towing, the company called in to remove the SUV.

In rear-end collisions, the driver of the rear-ending vehicle is usually considered to be the one at fault and cited. There are, however, circumstances in which that is not the case. This incident was one of those because, according to DPS, the semi’s extended load was not properly marked.

Lee said Arizona law requires “plainly visible” lights on extended loads from sunset to sunrise. Those lights have to be visible for at least 500 feet to the sides and rear of the load. (For perspective, 500 feet is roughly the length of the playing area of 1.6 football fields.)

During the day, extended loads must carry an 18-inch square red flag at the end of the load “so that the entire area is visible to the driver of a vehicle approaching from the rear.”

The goal is to give other drivers proper perspective of an extended load so that they can adjust accordingly.

DPS has not released the name of the semi driver.

Roklen was released from the hospital last week and reunited with his beloved service dog, Jessie. The dog was not injured in the crash. The Arizona Humane Society looked after the dog while Roklen was in the hospital.

[READ: Owner and dog reunited after terrifying metal cargo accident on I-17]

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