New Teton Pass truck arrestor works, saves runaway vehicle

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It’s an awful feeling Andrew Williams had when coming down Teton Pass on June 2.

“I was on the brakes a lot. Then, I pushed on the brake, and they just go to the floor,” Williams recalled.

Williams, a Jackson local, was heading back to town after picking his 1992 Ford Econoline bus that had been at a shop in Idaho. Sometime around 5 pm he was on the pass, hurtling toward Jackson and thinking his number was up.

To his credit, Williams was clear-headed and made some very good decisions. First, he tried pulling the emergency brake. It snapped immediately.

“I was already shaking violently. In my head, I had a few options. I could try and drive into the mountain to stop myself, but there was no break in the oncoming traffic, and I was risking hurting someone else. Or I could ride the guardrail and use the friction to stop,” Williams recalled.

Williams began rubbing the guardrail. With sparks flying he was able to scrub a few mph’s off his descent but it wasn’t enough. He was starting to lose control. That’s when he saw it—the truck arrestor. He pointed his vehicle into it and hoped for the best.

At an estimated 30 miles per hour, the catchnets made easy work of stopping Williams. Of the eight nets lined out to stop semi-trucks, only one was needed before Williams’ bus came to a halt.

“It saved my life,” Williams said of WYDOT’s new truck arrestor system. The new technology replaced the runaway truck ramp near milepost 7 on the south side of the highway last year. The system was opened in March of this year. This is the first time it has been used. And it worked flawlessly.

“I can’t believe I was ok. The system worked phenomenal,” Williams said.

WYDOT’s Bruce Daigle said, “I was pretty impressed with the small amount of damage and the ease in which the arrestor stopped the vehicle.

WYDOT crews were able to replace the catchnet in a few hours, and the whole system was operational the next day.

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