To listen to Ted and Dawn Maki tell it, you’d almost think it was just a really big bug that hit the windshield of their Kenworth truck instead of a bowling ball that could have killed them both on a Montana highway.
“The way I look at life is you just take what comes your way and deal with it the best you can and get to work putting it behind you,” Ted told TODAY’s Ann Curry during a joint appearance with his wife Wednesday. “It’s just going to be history now, and I’m OK.”
Ted, 54, sported a huge shiner on his right eye, which was still swollen almost shut. His face was also swollen, but otherwise he showed no ill effects from being hit by a 10-pound bowling ball that crashed through his windshield Sunday as he was rolling at 65 or 70 mph on I-90 just outside of Fairmont, Mont.
Police have no clues as to who dropped the ball off an overpass, and Dawn, 55, doesn’t really care. Curry noted that most people would be outraged that someone would do something so potentially lethal, but the Makis instead feel sorry for whoever did it.
“I just feel if someone was stupid enough to do this, then they really have problems, and they’re going to have a hard life ahead of them,” she said in the live satellite interview from Sioux Falls, S.D. “Or, if they were mean or evil enough to want to hurt somebody, then they are hurt deep inside or wounded so bad it’s really sad they have to go through life like that.”
The Makis, who have two grown sons and a granddaughter, have had their share of bad breaks.
Ted has overcome a stroke and has undergone a bone marrow transplant and the removal of his prostate. Dawn has survived breast cancer and a bilateral mastectomy.
The couple has been married 32 years. For the past 10 years, they have been driving a tractor-trailer rig together, taking turns driving on a weekly run from their hometown of Missoula, Mont., to Philadelphia and back, hauling mail under a contract with the U.S. Postal Service.
Ted was at the wheel on Sunday while Dawn was sleeping in the sleeper compartment behind the cab.
“I was looking at a store that had skylights in the town of Fairmont,” said Ted. “That’s about all I remember until I was woken up by my wife after the incident was more or less over.”
A very close call
The bowling ball had hit him in the face, knocking him unconscious. The truck continued on, rolling into the fast lane, then rambling through the median, crossing the westbound lanes, narrowly missing one vehicle, and finally careening into a cornfield where it finally came to a halt.
Dawn was jolted awake in the back by the explosive sound of the ball crashing through the windshield. Without being able to see either the highway or her husband, she had no idea what was happening.
“I thought maybe he was passing another vehicle and then he was going to slow down, but we just kept going,” she told Curry. “Then all of a sudden, I was being thrown everywhere, up and down. At one point I thought we were going to roll, but then we didn’t.
“We kept going and going, and it was probably the longest, wildest ride of my life.”
She was airborne at times as the truck bounded across the median and cornfield. When it finally came to a halt, she crawled out of the sleeper compartment and into the cab, where it took some time to process the scene that greeted her.
“The first thing I saw was nothing but cornstalks on all three sides of the cab,” Dawn said. “I’m like, ‘Where are we at? What’s going on?’ And then I saw this huge hole and [Ted] kind of slumped over bleeding.
“At first I thought he hit the windshield and that’s what made the hole. But then I saw all the blood on his head and stuff — it just didn’t make sense,” she continued. “I kind of lifted him up and put him in a seated position, and when I lifted him up I could see the bowling ball on the floor, and I’m like, ‘It’s just unbelievable.’”
The motorist who almost hit the rig as it ran across the westbound lanes stopped to help and call police, who called in a helicopter to airlift Ted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Doctors there said it was amazing that he didn’t suffer any life-threatening injuries. After holding him overnight, he was released on Monday.
The Makis say it will probably be three or four weeks before Ted is cleared to drive and they can go back to work. They won’t spend their off time feeling sorry for themselves or angry at whoever nearly killed them.
Said Dawn: “Life is too short.”