Brace for impact — that's all one of three people injured when a semi-truck carrying sand flipped over on Baseline Road Friday evening said she had time to tell herself in the second before the crash.
"It was really a split second, but it was an 'Oh my God,' kind of split second," Cheryl Fellows, of Boulder, said Monday.
Fellows and the other two injured in the accident were all released from the hospital over the weekend, and Boulder police continue to investigate the crash that buried two cars.
The semi was headed north on Foothills Parkway at 5:39 p.m. Friday when the driver, identified as Robert Lara, 71, lost control of the truck while trying to turn onto eastbound Baseline Road.
The truck flipped onto its side and spilled a load of sand onto two vehicles, causing several vehicles behind them to crash.
Fellows was driving one of the cars that got buried and was among those transported to the hospital. She said she was on her way to the Meadows Shopping Center and was stopped at a red light on Baseline Road when out of the corner of her left eye she spotted the semi already flipped over and airborne headed right towards her.
"I just remember saying to myself, 'Brace for impact,' because this was going to hurt. I knew something was going to hit me," she said.
Fellows said she felt two impacts when a Subaru next to her got smashed into her Toyota SUV and when the dirt from the truck buried part of her car. She isn't sure if she lost consciousness, but Fellows said when she opened her eyes her driver-side windshield was covered in dirt.
"I opened my eyes and sort of checked my body to make sure I was all in one piece,' Fellows said. "I could see the window was holding back dirt, but I couldn't really see anything else."
Fellows was able to slide over to the passenger seat and with the help of some people on scene climbed out of the window.
"I don't know if I was blacked out at all, but there were already a lot of people around," she said. "I'm very appreciative of all the people that helped."
In addition to helping Fellows, dozens of residents, police officers and firefighters shoveled and dug with bare hands to help save the driver of a Subaru buried and trapped in the crash.
The man was pulled from his car after crews shoveled the sand away and cut off his car's roof and one of its doors. He was conscious and talking after being rescued.
Lara, Fellows and the driver of the Subaru, whose name has not yet been released, were taken to area hospitals, with Fellows and Lara sharing an ambulance.
"It was the most uncomfortable ride of my life," Fellow said.
Lara could not be reached for comment Monday.
Lara and Fellows were released later Friday, while the third driver was kept overnight before being released from the hospital on Saturday, according to Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel.
Multiple witnesses said the accident began when the semi's driver, apparently out of control as he turned right off of Foothills and onto eastbound Baseline, drove over the median and onto the wrong side of the road.
Kobel said the case remains under investigation. No citations have been issued at this time.
Fellows said when she saw the truck before it hit her, it was clear the driver had missed the turn.
"That's a tough turn on a good day," Fellows said. "Those wheels were off the ground when he was headed my way. It felt like he was flying at me."