Cop stops runaway SUV seconds before disaster

Illustration for article titled Cop stops runaway SUV seconds before disaster

A Sam Houston State University police officer was about to get off work when he heard the dispatcher announce a man in a Ford Excursion was unable to stop his car and heading right towards downtown Huntsville, Texas. What he did next probably saved the man's life.

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Gaitlin Jeter was rolling towards downtown Huntsville with his cruise control set to 60 mph when he realized it wouldn't turn off. Attempts to shift it into neutral or brake were unsuccessful, so he called 911 for help.

Because 60 mph is like 35 mph in Texas, it's not uncommon for streets leading into town centers to feature high speed limits prior to the main business district.

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Rocky Carrell, an SHSU patrol officer, heard the call and chased down the runaway SUV. As you can see in this video, Carrell managed to get his police Tahoe in front of the Ford just moments before it crashed into the back of a truck or blitzed through downtown.

When it was over Jeter got out of his truck and hugged Carrell.

(Hat tip to BrtStlnd!)

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DISCUSSION

I'm finding this hard to believe.

The Ford switch to disable the cruise control is the brake pedal or the off button. The off button is digital but the brake pedal is physical. The brake fluid pressure works against a membrane/diaphragm that actives an electrical sensor that disconnects the signal to the cruise control. The cruise control's default state is off. If that physical diaphragm fails, the brake fluid leaks, shorts out the sensor and creates the same no signal condition that shuts the cruise control off (and probably a fire as well).

Unless I'm mistaken, and I'm sure I'll be zealously corrected if I am, I don't see how the cruise control could get "stuck on". Unless throttle linkage jammed up in some way, the cruise control's failure state is off, not stuck on.

Even then, the Excursion has 14+ inch rotors up front and 13+ inch rotors out back with dual piston calipers up front. There is more than enough stopping power to over come the power of the engine, even if it's a diesel. Unless it's modified then that also makes an argument for a stuck throttle linkage.

Also, if it's an automatic, it likely has a 4R100 and if you smack the gear leaver up hard enough, it'll pop right out of drive and in to neutral without pulling it out of the notch at any speed. I know, I've done it accidentally in my Lightning with the same transmission.

I'm calling shenanigans.