Man survives crash that sheered off top of his truck
Kenton Miller knew something had gone horribly wrong as he hurtled down the country road, unable to slow or stop his truck.
He just didn’t know exactly what.
The 66-year-old owner of a window-washing business saw a single headlight approaching as he neared the intersection of 21 and L roads on the evening of Dec. 14. Then, as he passed the headlight, there was a loud collision.
Miller was temporarily blinded. The steering wheel jammed into his pelvis and pinned his legs, preventing him from pressing on the brake. His westbound 1993 GMC blew through the intersection and sped ahead for a third of a mile before plunging into a cornfield and sinking into the mud.
Dazed and struggling to gather his thoughts, a picture of what happened began to come into focus when he looked up.
“There’s no roof over my head. I can see the stars in the sky,” he said.
He turned in his seat to look behind him. The cab of his truck was gone.
A tractor pulling a piece of farm machinery known as a creaser was headed eastbound on L Road, one of its arms extending into the westbound lanes about four feet above the ground. With no lights or reflectors on the creaser, Miller had no clue what was barreling toward him.
The creaser’s arm sheared off the top of Miller’s truck, popping it open like a tuna can.
How the creaser didn’t decapitate Miller is a mystery to just about everyone who has seen what’s left of the truck. Miller can only think of one explanation.
“I don’t have an answer for that except that God protected me,” he said.
Miller’s wife, Joan, and daughter, Megan, part of a deeply spiritual family, agree.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, miracles are for the olden days,’” Joan Miller said. “God is still a miracle-working God.”
There definitely was a miracle following Kenton Miller that night. The man who spotted debris in the road, waded through the cornstalks to check on him and called 911?
It took emergency crews about an hour to extract Miller from his truck. He spent a few hours at St. Mary’s Hospital that night but, as part of his faith, refused pain-relieving drugs. The accident badly skinned his left shin, bruised his left knee and left him with two black eyes and scrapes in several places.
Miller returned to work Thursday, just nine days after an accident that, by all accounts, should easily have killed him.
The man driving the tractor, 32-year-old Ward Studt of Grand Junction, fled the scene and ditched the creaser at a farm two miles away, according to the Colorado State Patrol. He called the State Patrol the next day to turn himself in.
Public records show Studt has been cited or arrested in Mesa County 14 times since 1998, with most of the offenses relating to speeding and seat-belt infractions. For the Dec. 14 accident, he was ticketed for failing to notify police of an accident, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, failing to provide proof of insurance and failing to equip an implement of husbandry with lamps.
Reached by phone Thursday, Studt acknowledged he “didn’t do the right thing” by leaving the scene. But he said he panicked because he thought he had killed the man in the truck. He claimed he returned and saw help had arrived.
The remains of Miller’s truck now sit in the field of a next-door neighbor. Corn husks are jammed into the grill. A cob of corn sits in the passenger seat. Miller said he’ll salvage the tires and try to sell what he can as scrap metal.
After the accident, Miller’s family removed his belongings from the truck. But Miller knew something had been left behind. As the sun faded behind Colorado National Monument, he reached through the driver’s side door toward the dashboard and pulled it out: a crisp $20 bill. Cash he carries around, just in case he needs it.
Consider it the latest miracle in a line that began 10 nights ago.