I-78 pile-up survivor recounts ‘pure terror’ as wife taken out of ICU

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – They were trying to go to a 4-year-old’s birthday party. Instead, the couple ended up in the hospital.

A husband and wife heading from Easton, Northampton County to the Midstate to see their granddaughter over the weekend found themselves caught up in the middle of the 64-car pile-up on Interstate 78.

One of them remained in the intensive care unit until Tuesday.

“She kept hearing bang, bang, bang, bang,” Guy Ehler recalled, sitting in a small room not far from where his wife Carol is staying at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Scrolling through pictures on his iPad, Ehler thought back to Saturday.

“Scared,” he said. “You know, just pure terror.” His Honda CR-V ended up in the middle of the tangle of cars, with he and Carol stuck inside.

Guy was driving and saw the snow up ahead. He slowed down and saw a tractor-trailer fish-tailing in front of him. He managed to come to a sliding stop.

“I looked in the mirror,” he said, “and something hit me from behind.

That was the first. Then came the second. “Within, you know, seconds, I get hit by a tractor-trailer.”

Then, a third smashed the front of his car and another truck was barreling toward them.

“When that tractor-trailer that was coming down over the bank was headed toward us, my first thought was we’re done,” he said.

That truck swerved to miss the pile and their SUV.

While the pair sat in their car waiting for help, Guy watched as firefighters cut into the car next to them with the jaws of life. He believes one of the passengers in that vehicle died.

Guy walked away with a concussion and — after a long ambulance ride — six stitches from the hospital in Reading. Carol had to be cut out of the car.

She was taken by helicopter, and Guy was told she also would head to Reading. After he was treated, he couldn’t find her there.

“I was terribly concerned because I knew she left and was told we were going to be at the same place,” he said. “And she wasn’t there.”

It took him hours to track her to Hershey.

“When I found that out, I was very happy,” he said.

She went straight to intensive care with a broken breastbone, a compression fracture in her spine, and internal bleeding.

Tuesday, she was taken out of ICU into intermediate care.

“It’s just great,” Guy said, beaming. “It’s just great.”

It’s their developing happy ending.

“I keep trying to tell her to take it one day at a time,” he said. “Do what they do today, and tomorrow, do what they tell you to do tomorrow.”

Doctors think Carol might be released by the end of the work week, but it doesn’t end there. She’ll likely be in a brace of sorts for a few months, and there might be a need for some physical therapy.

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