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Wind catches trailer, flips SUV near Big Sandy


July 25, 2014

Courtesy photo/Jacqueline Bergren

Officers survey a vehicle rollover Thursday afternoon near Big Sandy.

Strong winds flipped a moving trailer, rolling the vehicle towing it, Thursday at 2 p.m. on U.S. Highway 87 south of Big Sandy.

The vehicle was headed north on U.S. Highway 87 pulling an empty utility trailer when west winds tipped it over onto its right side at mile marker 74. An information report from the Montana Highway Patrol said the vehicle then entered a counter-clockwise rotation and rolled three quarter times, coming to a rest on the driver's side.

The trailer was still attached to vehicle due to safety chains.

Jacqueline Bergren, who is originally from Havre but now lives in Butte, said she witnessed the crash from her own vehicle driving the opposite direction. She was driving to Butte after visiting family in Havre with her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter in the car.

She said she the weather was fine until she drove through Big Sandy and saw the storm clouds rolling in.

"I just had a feeling of doom," Bergren said. "I wasn't sure if I should stop or continue."

She said she called her mother to ask her to pray for her and her children and then began praying herself. Minutes after she hung up the phone, the crash happened.

Bergren said she was following behind a truck when she saw a black SUV pulling a trailer coming toward her.

"I saw the trailer actually get picked up from the wind," Bergren said. "The trailer and the SUV just came skidding right into my lane."

She said that everything appeared to move in slow motion as the trailer came toward her and she stepped on the brakes of her vehicle and drove into the ditch at around 60 to 70 mph.

After she came to a stop, she called 911 and waited for the Montana Highway Patrol.

She watched the driver and passenger of the rolled over SUV climb out of the passenger side window.

She said when the Big Sandy Fire Department arrived, she saw that everyone was fine.

"One of the gentlemen had to have his arm wrapped but they seemed fine," Bergren said. She said the police told her the SUV came to a stop where her tire skidmarks began and that she would have hit the vehicle if she had not taken the ditch.

"I can't even believe that we got out of it," Bergren said.

Mark Schleitwiler, 56, of Oneida, Wisconsin, was driving the black 2010 Toyota 4Runner that was flipped in the wind of Thursday's storm.

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