Pengolodh (s.c) (pengolodh_sc) wrote,
Pengolodh (s.c)

Tonight I came very close to getting killed in an accident.

Or at least it felt, and feels, very much like that - I am not sure I've ever been so scared.

I work as a tourist guide for a museum - partly at the museum itself, and partly guiding excursions from the Hurtigruten coastal express ships to the museum. These excursions pick up passengers from Hurtigruten in one port, take them to the museum for a Viking feast, and return them to the ship in the next port of call.

Tonight I'd been guiding one of those excursions, and the bus with just me and the driver was returning home after delviering the passengers to the ship. The weather was not the best, but we'd had little trouble on the way - going home, however, it was getting a fair bit worse, and the weather forecast had predicted winds of Force 8 and 9 through the evening.

As the excursion starts on one island and takes us across another island to a third island, we have to cross two bridges on the way - this is is the biggest of them, with a length of 839 meters (ca. 2750 feet) and a height of more than 30 meters (100 feet).

Shortly before reaching the highest point of the bridge, a particularly strong gust of wind - probably well in excess of the forecast windstrengths - grabbed the bus, twisted it and slammed the right corner of the front hard into the railing of the bridge. The driver - herself badly scared by now - got the bus moving again (it's not like we could stay there), but after another short while, another windgust slammed the bus into the railing even harder.

Both times, I and the driver both were convinced that there was no way the railing was going to hold, that it would break, that the bus would go over and drop about 100 ft - into water holding around 4 degrees Celsius (about 40 Fahrenheit) and with even lower air tempreature, hundreds of feet from land, in gales bordering on storm.

Obviously, it did not break - we got moving again, and got down from the bridge and on land again, and could park the bus at a bus stop near the end of the bridge. At this point neither the driver was not in any shape to continue, and the bus was rather mauled (front entry door smashed out of shape, right headlights ripped off and hanging on by the electrical wires, grill ripped nearly completely off) and so we phoned for help and a lift home from the owner of the bus company.

I don't know the actual design criteria for the railing on the bridge - how strong it is - although considering the winter weather we get here and the traffic typical on that road, I imagine that it probably has been designed to withstand just this type of accident with even heavier vehicles.

Still - there, on the bridge, with the wind throwing the bus against the side of the bridge, I was absolutely convinced I was at the scene of my death.

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o.O Wow. I am pleased to hear that the only thing injured was the bus and some lost paint on a very well made railing. Is it possible there is ice on the bridge that allowed the wind to push the bus into the rail?

Road conditions were certainly not very good. Temperature's been just over freezing today, and there'd been quite a bit of precipitation in relatively short time - mostly heavy, wet snow (of the type that lumps together in flakes that lie loosely on each other), with hail and sleet mixed in. It is possibly, also, that there was a salt-slush below the snow on the road. The bus didn't have chains, but AFAIK all six tires were 240-stud or 360-stud (well above the legal limit, in fact).

The bus is a VDL Bova tourist bus pretty similar to this one (same model, different year, I think) - the entire right headlight panel, and the central lower front panel were the ones ripped off.
Terrifying. I'm so glad you're okay.
I'm so glad you and the driver made it over the bridge safely.
Gee Whiz!

That sounds positively horrifying! Certainly a glowing recommendation for "above-and-beyond" bridge design.

Also - I know that feeling - in the pit of my stomach I know that feeling. >.>
That would certainly be terrifying. I'm glad you're okay.

Apart from the danger, though, your job sounds really interesting!
Wow, that is beautiful country when the weather isn't trying to kill you!

I've had wind shove me into the next lane and onto the shoulder before when hauling van trailers. Big gusts will flop a truck and trailer onto it's side if the driver isn't careful, sometimes even if he is. All you can do is be prepared to slow down if the wind picks up or gets gusty. The slower your going the less effect it'll have on you.

That had to be pretty scary, I'm glad you made it through!