"Be The Match" Registered
- Apr 5, 2006
- Utah, USA
- 06 Nissan XTerra Off Road, 00 VFR800, 07 ST1300
Dennis Klingseisen says somebody was watching out for him Tuesday afternoon, as he drove north on Interstate 83 in York County.
The 42-year-old East Hempfield Township man was motoring home from Baltimore, when he saw drivers in front of him swerving to avoid something on the highway.
Then he saw something cartwheeling through the air.
Within seconds, a blunt, battered, 3-foot-long metal bar catapulted through his windshield, shattering a hole in the glass.
The bar was headed directly for Klingseisen's throat, "just below where you tie a knot in your tie," according to one astonished witness.
But by some miracle, the bar hit Klingseisen's steering wheel, flipped down and landed on his dashboard, instead of piercing Klingseisen's windpipe.
"It just seemed surreal," he says.
Stephen Lary, 47, of West Friendship, Md., was one vehicle ahead of Klingseisen when the accident happened, between the Shrewsbury and Glen Rock exits in southern York County.
"It happened amazingly quick," says Lary, who had just swerved to avoid the bar himself. "I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw his windshield explode."
The driver ahead of him also saw the bar hit Klingseisen's windshield, Lary says.
"She slowed down and she mouthed to me, she said, 'That hit him!' I said, 'I know! It hit him!' " Lary says.
"I looked, and I looked again. I saw the location of it and I was like, 'Oh no. Oh my.'"
Lary then noticed Klingseisen slowing down and getting off to the side of the highway, driving a short distance until he could find a safe spot to park. Lary also pulled over, jumped out and jogged over to Klingseisen's car.
Peppered with glass, his one hand nicked by the bar, Klingseisen was stunned. The bar was poking like a chimney out of his windshield.
"I said, 'Are you OK?' He said, 'I think I'm a little shook up,'" Lary says. "I kept saying, 'I don't believe this! This is unbelievable!' I kidded with him, 'I don't know who is more shook up, me or you.'"
Klingseisen called 911 and a dispatcher asked him if he could drive to the Glen Rock exit, where emergency workers would meet him. Lary drove ahead of Klingseisen, both with their flashers on, to the spot.
When firefighters arrived, they took one look at Klingseisen's windshield and said, "Were you driving this?"
"They said, 'You are one lucky dude,'" Klingseisen says. "I'm like, 'Tell me about it.' Meanwhile, I'm shaking like crazy."
It was the location of the bar that was so dramatic. Klingseisen is incredibly fortunate that the steering wheel blocked the path of the 4-inch-wide bar, which a tow truck driver said was likely a support bar from a flatbed truck.
"An eighth of an inch less, the force would have kept going, he would have been impaled," Lary says.
"You could shoot it out of a cannon a thousand times and it wouldn't have done that," he adds, of the bar's location in the windshield.
Klingseisen's good fortune was not lost on the emergency workers, who regularly see accidents where victims are not so lucky.
"When you see firemen take their phones out and take pictures, you know this is not a common occurrence," Lary says. "Even the policeman took his flip phone out and said, 'I gotta get a picture of this.'"
"They were like 'Wow,'" Lary says. "One guy said, 'It looks like we got a nicked finger and some soiled britches.' One of the other firemen got out of the truck and said, 'Are you religious? I would be.'"
Klingseisen's wife, Connie, came to pick him up. The couple had the car towed to a nearby body shop to be fixed.
Wednesday, Klingseisen, a quality control auditor, drove back to his work site in Baltimore, a trip he found "a little nerve-racking."
"It was definitely on my mind the whole way down," he says.
Also on his mind was another, much more tragic accident he was involved in 11 years ago.
In 1999, Klingseisen's 6-year-old son, Tyler, was killed when a truck hit Klingseisen's car in Manor Township, also injuring Klingseisen and his daughter, Brittany, who was 9 at the time.
After Tuesday's accident, Klingseisen's thoughts turned to that February day.
"I felt like somebody was watching over me," he says. "When I was talking to my dad, he was saying it was the supernatural power of God, or my son.
"I am just very thankful."