MESA — "I saw the item as it was coming through the windshield and didn't really have a whole lot of time to react,” said Det. Nick Cureton. “It hit me in the ribs and ended up wedging itself in between my left arm and my ribs."
Det. Cureton was driving in an unmarked Mesa Police vehicle when it was impaled by a metal pole Saturday morning along US-60 near Lindsay Road.
"I tried to slow my car down as best as I could after a while threw my lights on, came to a complete stop, [and] put my car in park,” said Det. Cureton. “Then tried to figure out if that item had actually gone into me."
Mesa police believes the metal pole is part of a luggage rack.
Debris on the roadway is a problem the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety says they are trying to combat.
At one of ADOT’s debris yards ABC15 saw desk chairs, mattresses, and even large recliners that their incident response team has found.
“It's so important for safety sake that any items that you haul are safely secured and strapped to your vehicle,” said ADOT Public Information Officer Ryan Harding.
It’s also illegal in Arizona to drive with an unsecured load. Drivers can face citations and hefty fines.
ABC15 reached out to DPS just last month to see how many collisions on Arizona roadways were related to or caused by unsecured loads.
In the last three years, more than 300 drivers have been cited each year for failing to secure their load. Even still, there have been close to 150 collisions each year.
“It comes down to the question, would I feel safe driving behind my vehicle as it is or would I be nervous,” said Harding.
Saturday, Detective Cureton had to be taken to the hospital, but now he’s home recovering. Despite the close call, he walked away with no major injuries or broken bones.
“I think I'm incredibly lucky I had my sunglasses on at the time,” said Det. Cureton.
He’s hoping his story helps prevent other future collisions.
“I think its definitely a responsibility of all the drivers out there too make sure that they secure whatever is in their vehicles to try and stop this from happening,” said Det. Cureton.
ADOT and DPS urge drivers to call 911 if they see or are hit by debris. They tell ABC15 this gives them the best chance to track down the driver and get real-time information.