Massive boulder nearly kills trucker on Seward Highway

A massive boulder crashed into the cab of a semi-truck on the Seward Highway during Friday's...
A massive boulder crashed into the cab of a semi-truck on the Seward Highway during Friday's earthquake. Photo courtesy of Craig Maddex. (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 4, 2018 at 10:39 PM AKST
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Commercial trucking is often regarded as being a dangerous job in Alaska, and Anchorage driver Craig Maddex experienced the truth of that during Friday’s earthquake.

“When that boulder came down and hit me, it just sounded like a blast going off,” Maddex said. “It was hair-raising, something I don’t want to experience again, that’s for sure.”

Maddex works for a commercial trucking company delivering goods to all corners of Alaska. On Friday morning, he happened to be driving up the Seward Highway on a return trip from the Kenai Peninsula.

"I noticed some small rocks were coming down, but that's pretty common out there on the Seward Highway,” he said. “I didn't think too much of it."

At the stroke of 8:29 a.m., the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit, dislodging dangerously large rocks right onto the highway.

“It sounded like a real heavy, intensified hail storm hitting the truck,” Maddex recalled.

Before he could react, a landslide of tumbling boulders near McHugh Creek took out the semi's engine.

Channel 2 asked Maddex what his reaction was directly following the impact. “I thought I was dead. I’m just thankful,” he said. “I definitely have an angel looking over my shoulder.”

With just two cuts on his knuckles, Maddex says perhaps the most damaging thing to come out of this is the nickname anointed to him by his fellow drivers.

"They're calling me, ‘Here comes 'the Rock Maddex',” he said through bouts of laughter. “I suppose I'm going to get stuck with that nickname for a while."

Maddex recommends more damage control on the stretch of Seward Highway between mile posts 104 and 114, where rockfall is expected to continue along with recurring aftershocks.

He also cautions anyone who regularly makes that commute to either stay home or remain highly vigilant and alert while driving on the highway. This is echoed by the Alaska Department of Transportation, which still includes that stretch of the Seward Highway on the state’s alert list following Friday’s earthquake.