Saturday, April 10, 1999

Driver got upside-down trip on freeway median

But nearby, another dies

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Donald Busch Jr. of Blanchester and his pickup were flipped upside down onto the median.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Donald Busch Jr. was southbound on I-71, just 15 minutes from starting his 5:30 a.m. shift as a toolmaker at Ilsco Corp. in Madisonville, when it hit.

        “I saw a couple of bright flashes,” he said. “Two big balls of blue. I guess they were transformers blowing out. The rain was picking up. You couldn't see anything. It was like driving in a cloud.”

        The 35-year-old Blanchester man braked his red Ford pickup as debris started pelting the windshield.

        “It was like the truck took control of itself,” he said.

        His seat belt still fastened, he leaned into the passenger seat. “I knew something was going to happen, but I didn't know what.”

        Next thing Mr. Busch knew, he was hanging upside down, strapped in by his seat belt.

        That's when he got scared. Mr. Busch thought his truck was upside down in the middle of the highway and that he would be hit by an oncoming car any minute.

        “Life was hanging on that seat belt to me.”

        It took several minutes to push against the steering wheel enough to unhook his seat belt. Mr. Busch climbed out and realized his truck was sitting upside down on a concrete barrier in the median.

        “I'm definitely feeling lucky,” he said. “I never even heard it coming.”

        He watched from the median, awestruck, as other cars zipped by him, not even slowing down for the street signs, metal roofing and pieces of trees that littered the interstate.

        He sat there for half an hour before he saw the other car. The one stuck in the trees upside down — across the northbound lanes. The driver of that car lay motionless near the guardrail.

        The storm, Mr. Busch suspects, “shot him across the road like a bullet.

        “I got a lump in my throat when I saw him sitting there.”

        Later, he used a phone inside an ambulance to call his wife. She saw the truck before she saw him and told him she couldn't believe he survived.

        “It'll sure make you appreciate life a little bit better when you go through something like that.”

        Glass became stuck in his head when the storm blew out the windows in his truck. He has a scratch on his right wrist and two scratches on his left elbow. His back and neck are sore.

        Still, Mr. Busch feels lucky.

        “Look girls, I'm on the news,” he said to his family as the noon news came on television Friday. “I'm the celebrity today. The lucky celebrity.”


Hope emerges from the rubble
Sirens worked, but some slept through
Families flew from their beds
Bengals coach: 'God's hand on me'
- Driver got upside-down trip on freeway median
Photographer encounters death, devastation
House is a cheap price to pay for life
Community safe, serene and vulnerable
In Addyston and Ripley County, some feel blessed just to be alive
Survivors eager to swap stories
Two died in field; two died on roads
Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster
To file a claim
Dealing with storm aftermath
Don't rush repairs after storm
Tips to picking a contractor
Kids need help to overcome grief, fears
Talking to kids
Phones, power out until Sunday
Rescue team did tough job
Storm could spur support for tax levy
Storms' memories linger after damage is repaired
Mobilization was instant
Tornado tales
TV/radio stations had reason to boast
Volunteers grab chain saws, mops as workers untangle wires
At least 7 businesses destroyed
911 calls reveal confusion, fear