Victim in I-40 Runaway Trailer Accident Describes Head-On Accident

MAUMELLE, AR - After multiple surgeries and with weeks ahead of struggling through recovery, a woman hit head on by a runaway trailer on the Interstate shares her story.

A State Police investigation is now looking into the Interstate 40 accident Saturday (7/26) that sent an unhitched trailer into oncoming traffic.

The accident backed up traffic on Interstate 40 for hours.

The images of the accident make it hard to believe the people inside the car came out alive. 

Emergency responders had to cut the driver out before flying her to Baptist Health in Little Rock.

"It just hit me," Shantell Standridge remembered. 

Going about 70mph down westbound Interstate 40 near Maumelle, driving her Pontiac Vibe, 17-year-old Shantell slammed head-on into the the front of a loaded trailer on the loose.

All Shantell could do was slam the brakes.

She said, "They said if I would have turned [the car] my body would be cut in half."

She didn't come out unharmed though. 

From her hospital bed at Baptist Health, Shantell described over-the-phone what happened after seeing the trailer cross the median and crush the front of her car into her knees.

"I can feel them breaking," Shantell remembered. "I was trapped in the car for about an hour and a half."

Shantell says she was told the engine block saved their lives.

Her boyfriend was riding in the passenger seat at the time. Shantell said his leg broke and the bone broke through the skin but he still tried to help his girlfriend. 

He's since been released from Children's hospital but is restricted to a cast covering everything from his toe to his hip.

Shantell's injuries are more significant.

"I have a broken hip, femur and knee," she said in-between surgeries to repair her hip. "There's a screw in my knee and staples on the top because I had a huge gash about four inches long and you could see the bone in it."

It's an accident some say could have been prevented.

Donny Tapps is the Service Manager at Taylor Truck and Trailer.

He showed us what can help prevent a trailer from coming unhitched.

He says there are multiple mechanical functions like the ball coupler that prevent unhitching, but the ultimate fail-safe are chains.

"If you hook it up right it will stay with ya," Tapps says. "90 percent of the time when these come loose [is] because it didn't get hooked up right."

Shantell says she was told that the trailer that hit her didn't have chains connected to the truck pulling it. 

She hopes her story will remind drivers pulling a trailer to take that one additional step.

She said, "[It] could save someone's life just by putting safety chains on."

Arkansas State Police say until they complete their investigation into the accident, they can't say whether the driver pulling the trailer violated any safety protocols. 

We'll continue to follow this story.

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