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Hydroplaning Off the Highway

February 11, 2010

Jeff Rusling, his wife, Ami, and their 4-year-old son, Jackson, were traveling north on Pennsylvania’s I-476 last Halloween. It was a rainy night in Philadelphia, and their Honda CRV had almost finished rounding a curve in the road.

The vehicle suddenly hydroplaned, lost traction, spun off the highway up an embankment, rolled, bounced and landed on its tires facing oncoming traffic.

Two cars and a truck zoomed by the Ruslings going upwards of 65 miles an hour before Jeff managed to get off the road. 

The CRV was considered a total loss. The roof was pushed down, the windshield cracked and shattered and the back doors jammed. The only injury, thankfully, was a bump on Jeff’s forehead.

“My wife and I were wearing our seat belts, and our son was safe, too,” Jeff said. “He was sitting in a Britax car seat that had a five point harness, and it did exactly what it was supposed to do — keep him safe.” The roll cage built in to their CRV also kept the three of them from serious injuries.

While Jeff and Ami suffer the all-to-common memory block after a tragedy, Jackson remembers the incident in exact detail, to the point he can reenact it with his toy cars.

“Our son remembers that the hill right off the highway was very bumpy,” said Jeff. “When I got in the ambulance to go the hospital, he was worried it might be bumpy, too. It was the bumps he didn’t like.”

Jeff called ERIE’s 24/7 claims service when he got home from the hospital to report the claim. He was very pleased with the service he received.

“You guys were wonderful,” he said. “The representative I spoke with on the phone, the adjuster and my Agent, Charlie Peterson at Peterson Insurance Services, were great. I couldn’t believe that ERIE even replaced Jackson’s car seat.”

This March, check out Conversations in the Spring ’10 Eriesense for a similar story about North Carolina Customer Jill Anne Sparapany, and remember to take extra caution when driving in not-so-nice weather conditions.

More tips on how to avoid hydroplaning.