FORT WORTH — A little more than 24 hours after getting entangled in a fiery crash on a Highway 121 overpass, Randy Pierce credits the 40,000 pounds of frozen chicken he was hauling with saving his life.
"The weight of my trailer and those chickens kept me from going over the edge, I think," Pierce, 59, recalled while watching video of the crash recorded by a mounted traffic camera.
The veteran trucker said he believes the trailer and its load substantially slowed his out-of-control rig and likely prevented him from plunging 40 feet off the side of the bridge.
"I don't know about 'saved it,' but they sure helped it last a little longer," he quipped.
The short video of the accident unfolding is breathtaking.
"I forgot about the space in between the two highways and I thought I might jump the concrete and hit the other traffic going the other way," Pierce said.
He was behind the wheel of his tractor trailer when a North Texas Tollway Authority dump truck turned into his lane, colliding with the semi and sheering off its fuel tank.
The impact detonated an inferno and sent Pierce and his rig dangling over a bridge.
It happened on Highway 121 just east of I-35E about 1:20 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
For Pierce, the video wasn't as striking as a single image snapped by a passerby.
"Yeah, I remember that," he said as he nervously put his tattooed hand up to his face and then over his mouth.
The still picture shows Pierce crouching and out of breath seconds after he escaped the flaming wreckage.
It's the only thing that choked up the soft-spoken, Harley-riding truck driver.
"Y'all had better not show this to nobody. Everybody will think I'm a sissy now," Pierce laughed.
The violent wreck destroyed his 2005 Peterbilt tractor, incinerated his phone and keys to everything, but clearly didn't harm his sense of humor.
Texas DPS told News 8 that troopers probably won't have their investigation into the accident completed until next week.
At that time citations against the NTTA dump truck driver, if any are deemed appropriate, will be issued.