Chunk of metal crashes through windshield, nearly kills driver

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- A Lakewood man knows he's lucky to be alive after being hit with a chunk of metal that came flying through his windshield last Saturday near Dupont.

Richard Gagnon is now out of the hospital and recovering at home with his wife and infant daughter.

"All of a sudden I look up and see something coming at me," Gagnon said. "Didn't really think anything of it, it was too far away."

The 23-year-old was driving southbound on Interstate 5 near mile post 118 heading through Dupont when he nearly lost his life.

"I thought it was a bird, and all of a sudden it comes crashing through my window and hits me straight in the face," he said.

It was no bird. It was a three-pound chunk of steel that crushed the front of his skull, broke his eye sockets, smashed his sinuses and broke his nose. He has a titanium plate inserted just under the skin of his forehead to protect his skull.

The state patrol does not believe the chunk of steel was thrown from an overpass. Trooper Guy Gill said they believe it came from the opposite side of the freeway, either falling from a vehicle or being kicked up by a vehicle.

Gagnon's wife Savannah rushed to the hospital after hearing about the accident.

"The nurse told me he didn't want me in there," she said. "He didn't want me to see him in this condition. His head was bandaged, his eyes were swollen."

Savannah called her husband's survival "a miracle." He's glad to be alive with a young family with little Annabell just starting out.

"I just want to make sure that this never happens to anybody else again," said Gagnon.

He hopes to speak out on behalf of more efforts to keep debris off of the roadways. Doctors tell him he might be able to return to his job at Best Buy in Lacey in a couple of months.

Gagnon's car was totaled and his insurance had been cancelled just shortly before the incident. His family has set up an account at BECU under the name "Richard S. Chezick-Gagnon, account #3597520466."